Rhule: Cam Newton Among "Best of Best," 2020 Fantasy QB Cheat Code? - Roto Street Journal
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Rhule: Cam Newton Among “Best of Best,” 2020 Fantasy QB Cheat Code?

In back-to-back years, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won countless fantasy owners championships, pacing QBs in scoring despite bottom-barrel prices. In 2020, Panthers QB Cam Newton might just be that QB. This is especially true after new HC Matt Rhule glowingly endorsed Newton as the team’s leader at this year’s NFL Combine. Should this hold, and should Newton be 100% healthy, the dynamic dual threat would drip in legit “Fantasy Cheat Code” upside within Joe Brady’s offensive scheme.

Newton’s future with the Panthers has been largely in question this offseason. Not long ago, Ian Rapoport expected him to be traded. Soon after, reports broke that Cam’s future would come down to a March workout.

Yet, just yesterday, new HC Matt Rhule could not have been more enthusiastic in backing Newton as the Panthers starter:

“I am unbelievably excited to get a chance to work with Cam…I’ll just say I really want him on the team and I really want him to be healthy. I know when Cam’s healthy, who he is and the type of player he is…he’s one of the best of the best.”

Health is the key here, and Rhule repeatedly emphasized this. If 100%, Newton should be a glove-like fit for new OC Joe Brady’s offense.

Brady’s work with Burrow, who set records all over the place, should have fantasy owners salivating for Newton in Carolina. Burrow ascended from unspectacular to unstoppable under Brady, throwing for the NCAA’s most yards (5671) and most TDs (60) — 2,777 yards and 44 TDs more than the year prior.

While Burrow undoubtedly took steps forward as a player, Brady’s scheme routinely set him up for success. With his “mold to your talent” approach, Brady crafted the offense alongside Burrow: “We’re always asking Joe for what his thoughts are. At the end of the day you can really believe in a scheme, but if the quarterback doesn’t feel comfortable with it, are you really going to get what you want out of it?” Burrow gushed that Brady brought back concepts he had run “since age 12, 13.”

A similar player-centric approach for Newton would be enormous. Brady’s already hinted he’ll build alongside his QB:

“No matter the quarterback you have, if he can’t really throw well but he can run, let’s put a system together that can put him in the best position. The same with your running back and receivers and tight ends. The best coaches don’t just run a system. They run what puts their players in the best position.”

Fortunately for savvy owners, Cam’s strengths drip in fantasy goodness: running, and the deep ball.

Brady already has a decorated history with utilizing his mobile QBs legs, especially on RPOs after learning under Joe Moorhead, the RPO Godfather, at Penn State.

With uncanny power and elusiveness for the position, Newton’s previously thrived with these concepts, especially in the Red Zone. He already owns the NFL record for rushing TDs (58) by 15, and would be in line for another 10+ rushing scores under Brady, who’ll implement some of the NFL’s most sophisticated RPO packages.

To unlock his full fantasy ceiling, Newton would need to improve his short-to-intermediate accuracy, as Brady’s attack is most dangerous when striking quick. In 2018, Cam showed tremendous progress in this regard, completing nearly 70% of his passes (a career high) as the offense became more McCaffrey-centric.

Thankfully, Brady’s scheme makes life far easier on the QB. He’s all about using minimal-protection concepts to maximize the amount of playmakers he can unleash on a given play. More routes and skill players spread all over the field creates plenty of easy throws that result in chunk YAC plays. Ultimately, within this offense, Burrow leaped from a 57.8% in 2018 to 76.3% in 2019, and Newton could experience a similar spike.

Meanwhile, Cam’s other major strength is his deep ball which, when health, remains one of the tops in the game. He simply has fought through shoulder injuries in back-to-back seasons. Brady’s relentless use of quick-strikes softens up the defense for the deep shots. On vertical plays of 20+ yards downfield, Burrow completed 33-of-56 (58.9%) passes for 1,166 yards, 18 touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also finished finishing second nationally in terms of completions of 10+ yards, 20+ yards, and 60+ yards.

With plenty of deep speed at his disposal in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, Brady will undoubtedly uncork multiple deep shots every Sunday.

Again, all this upside hinges on if Newton is a Panther, and if he can stay healthy. Even if the former holds true, the latter is far from a guarantee.

Still, owners have been quick to forget Newton recorded two Top-3 Fantasy QB seasons in his past four years, including his MVP 2015 that featured 45 total TDs (10 rushing) and 390 FPs. This was done with complete garbage at WR, and an OC who was just fired by the Giants.

If Brady’s the next NFL wunderkind — highly plausible after LSU’s turnaround — Newton will be in the best offense, with the best weapons of his 9 year career. Another 45-50 TD season isn’t impossible, and that upside for the current QB14 price is the type of bargain savvy owners crave.

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