Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton struggled again, and this time it was against the New Orleans Saints at home. He played the league’s worst defense at home and still didn’t look like the 2015 MVP. This was the game where he was supposed to rebound after struggling the past two weeks with his offseason shoulder surgery.
To make matters worse, he couldn’t have a better situation. The Saints were without cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore. This has to be a concern not just to the Panthers, but to fantasy owners as Newton was drafted as a QB1 to most teams.
In three weeks, this is what Newton’s points were according to Fantasypros: 13.1 against the 49ers, 11.8 against the Bills and 8.3 this week. The first game was expected of Newton as he played only one series all preseason after the surgery. Even though he was rusty, he still completed 14 of his 25 passes for 171 yards, threw two touchdowns and one interception and rushed for three yards with a fumble. Many expected a better performance since they played a 49er defense that gave up 400 yards of offense per game last year.
In week 2, he took a pounding, but improved from his week 1 performance. He went 20-of-32 for 228 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was brought down on six occasions and per Craig Reed of the Associated Press, finished the contest with a twisted ankle.
He looked solid connecting with seven pass catchers and gained a strong rapport with both Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, who logged 10 completions for 145 yards on 14 targets.
Even though he improved in his game play in week 2, his fantasy performance was still pedestrian. He still didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and still looked rusty in his mechanics. Newton has barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes and missed some opportunities badly over the first two weeks this year. He had Christian McCaffrey for an easy touchdown last week and overthrew him.
Along with that, he has barely run the ball, which is his strength. Ron Rivera has said they will limit his running and make him more of a passer. If he doesn’t continue to run, he won’t be a top-end QB1.
But not all of it was his fault. To start the game, he was out with his favorite target Greg Olsen to a broken foot against the Bills last week. He also lost his second target Kelvin Benjamin in the game to a knee injury during the first half. His next targets Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey were really a non-factor the entire game.
What to do now
As Newton said, it’s gut check time. For fantasy owners, the thread is dwindling to rely on him as a starter week in and week out. Newton would agree with some fantasy owners as he’s frustrated with his performance.