News broke Tuesday that Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton will indeed need surgery on his throwing shoulder. He had suffered a partially torn rotator cuff back in Week 14 against the then San Diego, now Los Angeles Chargers. The Panthers hope to have Newton ready for training camp, but nonetheless, this means Cam won’t be throwing the football for quite sometime.
Add this to the fact that head coach Ron Rivera wants to start using Newton less of a runner next season—a move that makes plenty of sense from a “keep your franchise quarterback alive” standpoint—and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Newton’s fantasy stock heading into 2017.
As a purely passing quarterback, Newton is very, very average. He has a career completion percentage of 58.4, has only one 4,000 passing yard season, and has never thrown under 10 interceptions in a season. Last year, thirteen quarterbacks threw over 4,000 yards and nineteen threw 20 or more touchdowns. Newton did neither.
What has always made Newton unique, both as a real football and fantasy football player, has been his ability to score with the ball in his hands. Since coming into the league in 2011, only running backs Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy have scored more rushing touchdowns than Cam (51 and 49 respectively to Newton’s 48). The next quarterback on that list is Andy Dalton with 18. Let that sink in. Not that Newton has scored a ton of touchdowns, that the quarterback with the second most rushing touchdowns since 2011 is Andy Dalton. It’s a crazy world we live in.
Removing is part of his game, or at least trying to temper it, makes Newton a lot less desirable as a fantasy quarterback. We’ve already seen what a control Newton looks like from a fantasy standpoint. This past season, Newton carried the ball 90 times for 359 yards—good for 4.0 yards per carry—and five touchdowns, all of which are career lows. This led to his second lowest fantasy output, generating only 254.3 total points, 17th among quarterbacks.
I’m not saying avoid Newton like the plague. He is still a productive player and his dual threat ability will certainly lead to a few games in which he’ll score more points than you know what to do with. However, these games will become fewer with farther between next year.
I wouldn’t draft Newton with the confidence that he’ll produce week in and week out. At this point, I wouldn’t consider him a top 10 fantasy quarterback. There are plenty of other quarterbacks with more upside in my mind I would rather have on my roster (currently very high on Jameis Winston).
Newton might be able to get back on track in 2017 but it’s more likely that his fantasy star has burnt out.