As I’m in the process of preparing my preliminary fantasy football projections and rankings for the upcoming NFL season (yes, still 4+ months away, but we have a schedule), I realize I am extremely low – hopefully with good reason – on Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton.
With the departure of wide receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. (yes, even Ginn who practically matched LaFell in fantasy points) and replacing them with Jerricho Cotchery (Steelers), Tiquan Underwood (Buccaneers) and Jason Avant (Eagles) is a highly suspect method of supporting your franchise QB. I’m not saying the first group is any sort of murderer’s row of receiving talent, but when you jettison the top three receivers – two of which were with Cam every year of his career – and replace them with career third (or lower) wide receivers, I’m a lot more pessimistic on this situation than optimistic.
Maybe Greg Olsen will have a Jimmy Graham-esque season. Okay, while I believe it is possible Olsen can still increase his numbers from 2013, even though they represented career highs in targets and catches, it would be tough to expect so much more it will radically increase Newton’s numbers.
The running game? Same old, same old, and getting older. Cam has obviously always augmented his stats with his rushing, but as we’ve seen with many a running QB in the past, rushing stats decline over time as there is perhaps less desire to run by the QB and the coach to help keep the QB on the field.
If this new look receiving corps doesn’t pan out, fantasy owners may predict Cam to run more, but really, is that going to be an easy task if and when defenses expect him to run more? That expectation is a natural consequence of Cotchery, Underwood and Avant struggling, matched up against the opposition’s top corners, something they’ve never really had to do before for an extended time.
These red flags directed towards Cam’s 2014 season may prove a short-term problem, and we are talking dynasty here, so why am I hot to tot to trade him away? My reasoning is that generally if a player is due for a down season, that will negatively impact their value going into the following season. That seems reasonable. It would have to be an exceptionally special player to expect a down year, and ride out the down in anticipation of a big rebound the following year(s).
Normally we would only expect a big down year for an injured or recovering player, and it becomes difficult trading away an injured player for decent value because, well, he’s injured. Cam is not injured. Technically, that is not correct. He’s in a walking boot recovering from ankle surgery. In this case it is not an injury the fantasy community is overly concerned about at this time.
Anyway, my point being that while we’ve seen some downgrade of Cam Newton for the receiver turnover, I don’t believe the fantasy community has adequately downgraded Cam Newton enough for what lies ahead. If you own him, then I suggest trying to trade him.
Two years ago I joined the Dynasty Experts League, and inherited Cam Newton. I posted on the board he is available to see what interest there is out there for his services. Negotiations started almost immediately with two teams.
Offer Received From Team A
Give: Cam Newton
Get: Rookie Pick 2014 1.03
Give: Newton + Rueben Randle
Get: Jarrett Boykin + Ladarius Green + 2014 1.02
Give: Newton + 2014 3.07
Get: Boykin + 1.02
Proposal To Team B
Give: Cam Newton
Get: DeAndre Hopkins + Rookie Pick 2014 1.01
Response (discussion, not an official offer)
Give: Newton + Mid-round pick or quality defensive player
Get: Markus Wheaton or Marques Colston (type) + 2014 1.01
Give: Newton + 2014 4.07
Get: Terrance Williams + 2014 1.01
Give: Newton + 2014 3.07 or Tyrann Mathieu or Jerod Mayo
Get: Markus Wheaton + 2014 1.01
There you have it, I ultimately made a deal trading Cam Newton plus a mid-round pick in exchange for the 1.01 pick in the rookie draft and Markus Wheaton. I originally wanted to improve at WR in this deal, and I’ll concern myself with bolstering my now very risky looking quarterback situation (Brian Hoyer, Matt Schaub) at a later time.
I believe I’ve potentially improved a lot at WR as the 1.01 is likely to be used on Sammy Watkins. Markus Wheaton is an interesting prospect entering his second year, because he did virtually nothing last season catching only 6 passes for 64 yards, but he was highly touted and has a nice opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers since Emmanuel Sanders left town to join the Denver Broncos. I’ll be a bit on pins and needles hoping the Steelers don’t use a high pick on a WR in the upcoming NFL Draft.
All in all, I’m happy with this deal getting the coveted 1.01 pick even at the expense of a 24-year old starting QB in Cam Newton. We’ll see if I’m accurate predicting a down year for him in 2014.