Fantasy Football: Can Cam Newton Do It Again?

Cam Newton was one of the most electric players to set foot on the gridiron last season, and made fantasy owners swoon over his advanced knowledge of the NFL game, and especially the way he carried himself once past the line of scrimmage.

Last season, owners were able to draft Newton extremely late, and more often than not, he was available on the waiver wire. After a couple 400 yard performances in weeks 1 and 2, he was quickly snatched up.

Newton went on to dominate defenses the rest of the season, finishing with an NFL rookie record, 4,051 yards, and 21 TD’s. That’s not it though, as Newton did some crazy work with his legs. Tack on another 706 rushing yards, and 14 scores, and Newton came in with a robust 352 fantasy points, good for 3rd in the entire league.

So, how’s the outlook for 2012?

Simply put, Newton should continue to rack up big numbers, but with a slight tweak to our expectations. Newton will be afforded a full training camp with the Carolina Panthers, something he wasn’t given last year, thanks to a prolonged lockout. With more time to study an NFL playbook, obtain valuable criticism from coaches, and work on timing with his wide receivers, the extra work will only further Newton’s NFL experience.

The best goal line asset last season wasn’t Atlanta’s Michael Turner, or Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, it was Superman himself, Cam Newton

However, towards the end of last season, defenses started to understand just how Newton was operating. Over the first six games of the season, the Panthers were attempting an insane amount of vertical passes, so much in fact that Newton was on pace to throw more vertical passes than even Peyton Manning during his best season in Indianapolis. Over the final six games, defenses adjusted to hold Newton to the following yardage numbers: 208, 204, 276, 149, 171, and 158. That averages out to a meager 194 YPG. Ouch. Granted, Newton’s legs bailed him out, as he averaged a highly respectable 22 fantasy points during the same stretch, thanks to five rushing scores.

I have Newton sandwiched between Drew Brees and Eli Manning in my QB rankings, taking the five spot, but I’m a little skeptical about how this season shakes out. I highly doubt the Panthers will allow Newton to take off for 120+ rush attempts ever again, what with the entire franchise resting on his shoulders and all. This will certainly push down his rushing numbers a bit, but I still expect Newton to have his fair shot at goal line dives.

The cannon attached to Newton’s upper half is what scares me a bit. If defenses adjusted so well to Newton in 2011, they will certainly have a full “book” on him heading in to 2012. It will be up to Newton to prove critics wrong, and further his knowledge of NFL defenses.

I feel confident that Newton will once again put up video game type numbers on NFL defenses, and I think he is one of, if not the last QB on my rankings whom I would feel 100% comfortable drafting as my starter, and putting 20 points in the bank week in and week out. With another big season, Newton will move one step closer towards fantasy super stardom.

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