by Tzali Nislick
It was a dreary Sunday night in Massachusetts. It had been raining nearly all day until it stopped shortly before dinner time. And then at roughly 8 p.m. the skies opened up once more, yet this time it wasn’t rain, no. It was a ray of sun. A glimmer of hope. A new chapter in the story of the Patriots dynasty. Descended a former league MVP with fancy outfits and unusual text fonts. New Englanders finally had what they so desperately coveted ever since Tom Brady departed for Tampa Bay: a starting quarterback. And his name is Cam Newton. So there it finally is. Cam Newton is a New England Patriot. Wow, just wow. Okay, now that I got my excitement out of the way let’s talk about what this means for Cam Newton’s 2020 fantasy football outlook.
2018 was the last time we saw a somewhat healthy Cam Newton, and it was actually one of his best seasons. He finished as the QB12 in fantasy football while tossing 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns along with 488 yards and 4 touchdowns with his legs. He also set a career high by completing 67.9% of his passes and posted a 94.2 passer rating which ranks 2nd to his MVP campaign in 2015. He and the Panthers got off to a 6-2 start, but after suffering a shoulder injury on a hit against the Steelers in Week 10, the wheels quickly fell off thereafter. Carolina lost their next six games, Newton didn’t look like himself and he was promptly deactivated for the final two games due to his lingering shoulder issue. After undergoing shoulder surgery that offseason, he most recently was limited to just two games last season before going under the knife once again, this time for his foot. So yeah, it’s been a while since Cam Newton has been healthy.
All of that being said, the former MVP seems to finally be at full strength. He has posted several videos on Instagram showing his arm, footwork and outrageously jacked body and he appears to be more motivated than ever. It also doesn’t hurt to have Bill Belichick with Josh McDaniels designing plays. Julian Edelman is still a productive player, Mohamed Sanu is healthy after undergoing an offseason ankle procedure, N’Keal Harry is young with an extra year under his belt and James White is one of the league’s best pass-catching backs. Not to mention New England had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines a year ago, something that wasn’t necessarily always a luxury in Carolina. So it’s not like it’ll be a one man show in Foxborough in 2020. And if he really is healthy and remains that way over the course of 16 games, that could spell disaster for the rest of the NFL.
That’s a big “if” though. And quite frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. The Patriots’ weapons definitely aren’t the worst in the league, but they’re also not among the best. Until further notice I’m steering away from Cam Newton as a starting quarterback in fantasy football for now, but at the same time I’m not ignoring his tremendous upside. I believe that lands him squarely in the high-end QB2 conversation, among the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. If all goes well and Cam stays healthy we could potentially be looking at a top-5 fantasy quarterback. After all, he’s the 3rd best quarterback on a points per game basis (min. 40 games played) since entering the league in 2011. But all of the question marks make it impossible to draft him as such. I think this move is better for the Patriots in real life than for fantasy football managers, but as a native New Englander and die hard Patriots fan, I hope it pays off in both worlds.