The other shoe finally dropped as Cam Newton signed an incentive-laden one-year deal with the New England Patriots, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Patriots were the last team that Newton had a real shot at signing with and starting, so we can’t really ask for a better spot for fantasy football.
Newton has plenty of questions still, especially concerning his health. Newton turned 31 last month, which is still right in the prime of an NFL quarterback’s life, but shoulder injuries and most-recently, a foot injury have slowed him down.
Before his last shoulder injury, Newton had one of his best seasons in 2018, as he posted his highest completion percentage at 67.9 percent and highest yards per pass attempt with 7.2. For fantasy, his passing numbers weren’t his calling card though, as rushing yards and touchdowns pushed him into an elite fantasy quarterback more often than not.
Newton appears to be healed from his recent foot surgery, as he’s posted videos of himself running, but there is no doubt that foot and throwing shoulder problems are a concern moving forward. One worry I don’t believe we need to take on is whether he will start or not. As long as he is healthy, Newton should win the job over Jarrett Stidham.
The Patriots offense isn’t flush with great receivers, which is a knock against Newton, but they should continue to play at a fast pace under Bill Belichick. That fast pace could keep Newton as a strong fantasy play due to his rushing ability and Josh McDaniels and Belichick’s ability to call games. If Newton can bring back his rushing ability, he’s a Top-10 quarterback, but if his injuries push his rushing numbers down and nobody other than Julian Edelman steps up as a receiver, it could be a tough season for Newton’s fantasy outlook.
I will approach Newton as a boom or bust pick this season based on health. As long as he’s healthy, he should continue to run, as that is a big part of what makes him the offensive force he is. He’ll likely slot into 12th or 13th in the QB rankings as I try to average out his great upside and inherent injury risk.