The New England Patriots have signed Cam Newton, bringing in the 30-year-old quarterback after several seasons where injuries slowed down his play.
How should you view the signing in terms of fantasy football? Let’s examine:
Should You Count on Newton In Fantasy Football?
Newton was having a Pro Bowl-caliber year during the first half of 2018 before injuries slowed him down. The Panthers were 6-2, atop the NFC South, and Newton was 12th in QBR while completing 67.3 percent of his passes under Norv Turner’s offense. Yet, his right shoulder let him down and the team collapsed in the season half of the year. Newton would only play two games in 2019, showing rust after undergoing foot surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury prior to the season.
The Lisfranc foot injury has crippled many skill position players, as Pro Football Action relays, though quarterbacks have been able to return to their top form.
Matt Schaub suffered the ailment in 2011, which ended his season, though he was able to make the Pro Bowl in 2012. Taysom Hill suffered the injury in college and it hasn’t hindered him on the Saints; so much so that some in New Orleans consider the 29-year-old the franchise’s QB of the future.
It’s not entirely clear how Bill Belichick plans to use Newton. It’s also not even clear if Newton will start immediately. ESPN’s Mike Clay predicts 13 starts for Newton and three for Jarrett Stidham.
Assuming Newton does get significant playing time, should we expect him to be in the starting conversation in fantasy? Perhaps. There’s a lot of question marks, though Newton has the upside to make him worth a late-round investment.
The Patriots finished eighth in the NFL with 247.6 passing yards per game last season and Brady finished as QB12. If the Pats use Newton more as a runner, which I suspect will part of their larger plan to be a more run-heavy team, then the former MVP may be able to crack the top-10 in fantasy, which is a spot he’s always been when healthy.
How Does Newton’s Arrival Impact Others on the Patriots?
Evaluating the talent on the Patriots is going to be an even more difficult task this season than in year’s past, which could allow for some value to be found.
Edelman has caught 36 touchdown passes in his career with zero of them coming from anyone other than Brady. He finished as WR7 during 2019 and while it would be a surprise if he ends up in top-10, he could end up being a starting-caliber WR with Newton given the lack of top competition at the position and Newton’s recent history of showing strides in passing games that incentivize short, quick throws.
In 2018, Newton finished within the top-10 in completion percentage, something fueled by Norv Turner’s quick release system and the presence of Christian McCaffrey. James White is no McCaffrey, though he could play a similar role for Josh McDaniels’ offense in the post-Brady era. Edelman is better than the majority of WRs Newton has ever played with and the 34-year-old receiver could easily find success with his new signal-caller.
Edelman is currently being selected as WR35—a 9th-rounder in 10-team drafts. At that spot, drafting him allows for reasonable upside without much risk.
N’Keal Harry is going to get a lot of attention, as the 6’3″ wideout has the potential to be a fantasy star. He’ll go late in every draft with owners hoping that he can be the 2020 breakout star. I’d take Edelman at his pricetag to be my WR3 over the chance to nab Harry a few rounds later and have him take up a roster spot. I’d simply rather utilize my bench spots on running backs who could pop over someone like a second-year receiver like Harry, who is not guaranteed any serious playing time as of this writing.
Further injury to Mohamed Sanu, who has reportedly recovered from ankle surgery and is going undrafted as of this writing, could open the door to Harry receiving more looks. I I wouldn’t bank on either Sanu or Harry being someone to count on in fantasy, especially if the Pats shift to a more run-heavy approach.
As for the running backs, White, who is going in the 9th-round of an early draft, should be useful. He’s more of a bye-week fill-in in standard leagues vs. a starting caliber RB in PPR, so plan accordingly. In standard, I’d much rather take Sony Michel in the 9th and hope that he can improve on his measly 3.7 yards/attempt average despite the fact that he may miss the beginning of the season as he works his way back from foot surgery.