The NFL kicks off Thursday with a Super Bowl rematch as Cam Newton and the Panthers take on the Denver Broncos. In fantasy football drafts, Cam Newton was an absolute stud pick; going within the first two rounds in nearly all fantasy drafts this season, #1 overall. He was a massive investment, and one you’d be better off leaving on your bench for week one.
The Denver Broncos last season were the best against the quarterback, allowing only 13.16 fantasy points per game (~20 points is considered starter quality). While they will not return all their defensive starters, they are returning their incredible secondary that will make life miserable for Cam all evening. The Broncos are also likely going to give the ball to C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker a lot, let them run out the clock, and keep the Panthers off the field. The Panthers are likely to take the same approach, chewing up clock and keeping the Broncos off the field. Slowing it down and running the ball incessantly on both sides is a recipe for a knock-down, drag-out slobber knocker.
For Cam Newton, this means he’ll get more yards on the ground, which are more valuable than passing yards. This will give him a relatively high floor, but the pace up and down the field means that he will not be airing it out like he did last season, which will lead to a much lower ceiling, as well. He doesn’t make for a great fantasy prospect on that fact alone.
But taking into account Cam Newton’s low completion percentage last season (sub-60%) and the fact that he’s due for a touchdown regression (which will likely start against the Broncos), it means that Newton is not a great fantasy option for week one. Newton’s passing inaccuracies combined with the iffy hands of his receivers (the worst in the NFL) and the Broncos secondary mucking things up is a combination for a bad day for Cam Newton and his owners.
The #1 overall quarterback taken in most drafts, a top-two round selection in most drafts, and a player that should take a back seat to another signal caller when you start your fantasy season. There’s a saying in Fantasy Football circles: don’t sit your studs. For every rule, there is an exception. Cam Newton is playing the defending Super Bowl Champions in the first real game action since… What he lost to the defending Super Bowl Champions is the exception to that rule. It’s going to be extremely difficult, and it’s going to be against your better instincts, but it’s best to leave Cam Newton on the bench.
Prediction: 14/23 passing, 173 yards, one passing touchdown, one interception, nine rush attempts, 47 yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (13.62 fantasy points)