Update September 4: The Patriots reportedly named Cam Newton the starting quarterback for Week 1. Bill Belichick refuses to publicly name him or any other starters, per reporter Michael Giardi which seems par for the course for the Hoodie.
Update August 31: While Newton is the top dog in the quarterback room, he acknowledges that he has a lot to learn before he feels like the clear starter. While the reps have been split fairly evenly between Newton, Stidham, and Hoyer, it’s clear Newton is the favorite. Newton is the only quarterback with a ceiling high enough to make him worth drafting among Patriots signal callers and is establishing himself as a leader early on.
Update August 24: Newton stands out as the frontrunner in the race for the starting job in New England. He’s taken the the lion’s share of the first-team reps, per beat writer Jeff Howe. Jarrett Stidham appears to be dropping on the depth chart while Brian Hoyer has looked like a solid backup candidate. Newton has been warned about his ball security problems at camp, but he has the highest ceiling of the quarterbacks on the Patriots’ roster.
In this series we will look at the most important fantasy football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity is king in fantasy, as you can’t produce fantasy statistics without getting on the field. So, the first step when looking for value plays is to project, correctly, which players will win training camp battles.
The departure of Tom Brady left a lot of question marks around the New England Patriots’ fantasy potential. There was no clear heir apparent at quarterback when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the uncertainty only grew when New England didn’t select a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. Jarrett Stidham was the favorite to start in Week 1 following the draft, but the Patriots’ offseason acquisition of former Carolina Panthers signal caller Cam Newton made things interesting.
Stidham played sparingly in 2019 and only completed two of his four passing attempts for 14 yards with one interception. It’s hard to project how he would produce with a full season as starter given his small sample size. Newton, the league’s 2015 MVP, only played in two games last year before his year was shut down by a foot injury. He was then released by the Panthers after undergoing surgery and completing rehab. Can he become the face of a franchise again?
Newton had better offensive weapons with Carolina, but he has the tools to get back on track in New England. James White has sturdy hands and ranked sixth among running backs in targets (95) last year. He trailed only Christian McCaffrey in 2018. Having a reliable escape outlet out of the backfield can help Newton raise his floor if he continues to have trouble with his accuracy. Newton’s ability to make plays with his legs has dropped off, but scrambling efficiently for a team that finished as a top 10 offense with Brady under center could help him finish in the top half of the league at his position.
Newton should be the favorite to win this job given his level of experience. The Patriots have proven that they can win with game managers in the past, and Newton is capable of doing that. If Newton reaches 80% of his ceiling, he can be a top 15 fantasy quarterback. Stidham probably won’t have much value, even if he takes the job because of an in-season injury. Don’t rush to make Newton your QB1, but he can definitely be a QB2 worth taking a chance on in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.