Is Cam Newton the most frustrating quarterback in Fantasyland?
Not to me. Not anymore, at least.
You see, I drafted him last year, on the heels of his stellar rookie campaign. Newton got off to a slow start, accumulating just 10 total TDs over the first half of the 2012 season with relatively modest passing and rushing statistics to offset his scoring deficit.
In fact, through his first eight games, Newton had amassed 464 fewer yards and eight fewer TDs in 2012 vs. 2011.
To be sure, he came on fairly strong over the second half; but I had long stopped risking him in my starting lineup by then. Meanwhile, the team he “led” was mired in the bottom half of my fantasy league.
I have a fairly long memory on matters like this, and I tend to hold grudges. So Newton found himself on my personal do-not-draft list this year, alongside the likes of DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Danny Amendola, Miles Austin and Lance Moore. (Full disclosure: Philip Rivers was on the list, too. I’m still not convinced…)
Those of you who just watched Newton rack up four combined TDs and 242 passing yards against the Vikings – while safely ensconced on your bench – can relate.
According to one top league-management site, Newton was benched in roughly a third of all leagues in Week 6. But I was alerted to the issue because all three of his owners in the leagues in which I compete benched him. And all three were grousing about it last night and this morning.
I heard the same, familiar complaints I expressed about him last season.
“You never know when he’s going to show up.”
“I play him against Arizona and he coughs up the ball four times. I bench him and he goes nuts.”
“He drives me #%$@*&! crazy.”
That’s funny. He doesn’t bother me at all.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. I advised you to grab Foles last week, but he’s still available in nearly every league. Following his bravura 4-TD performance against the Bucs, you’ll have to compete for him now. Don’t be surprised if Mike Vick’s recovery drags on well past the Week 7 matchup with the Cowboys.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants. With news that David Wilson’s season, if not his career, could be in jeopardy due to a serious neck condition, Jacobs may have the Giants’ backfield to himself until Andre Brown (leg) returns. That won’t be until Week 10 at the earliest. Meanwhile, Michael Cox is the only other healthy back in the fold. After his 106-yard, 2-TD outing against the Bears, Jacobs is worth a pickup.
Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons. There’s a reason Douglas is still available in nine out of 10 leagues. He’s as inconsistent and unreliable as they come. Even now, with Julio Jones lost for the season and Roddy White expected to miss multiple games with hamstring and ankle injuries, I’m reluctant to recommend him. But unless Atlanta makes a bold move, Douglas and Tony Gonzalez will be the only experienced hands available to Matt Ryan when the Falcons return from their bye this weekend.
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys. You can look at the depth chart, or watch the game. The former says Miles Austin is the starter. The latter says Williams is the playmaker. Following his breakout performance in Week 5 against the Broncos, the rookie caught Tony Romo’s only scoring pass on Sunday night. Williams is not an every-week starter, but he has significant upside and was clearly drafted to replace the hamstring-challenged Austin. The transition is in progress.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks. He is now eligible to be activated off the PUP list, and his return is “just around the corner,” according to his coach. It’s time to grab Harvin if he’s available, as he could come in very handy down the stretch. Russell Wilson’s value will soar as well with his multi-talented new wideout on the field.
Don’t be fooled
Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys. If the rookie starts in Week 7, it will be strictly by default. And you won’t like the results. Dallas had high expectations for Randle when they drafted him, but he was thoroughly outplayed during the preseason by both Lance Dunbar (hamstring) and Phillip Tanner (arm). With DeMarco Murray (knee) injured yet again, it may be wise to avoid this backfield altogether until Dunbar, the pick of the litter, is healthy.
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals. The only thing worse than investing in one of the league’s weakest rushing attacks is investing in the backup. Though Ellington is steadily encroaching on Rashard Mendenhall’s workload, and the rookie supplements his mediocre rushing stats with a handful of receptions, he’s still just a desperation play in any given week. He only has value in the deepest of leagues.