Cam Newton Start/Sit Week 11: Newton should be trusted in his first start

With Cam Newton getting his first start since returning to Carolina, should he return to fantasy lineups in Week 11?

By now, you’ve heard the sound bite of Cam Newton yelling “I’m back!” after scoring his first touchdown since returning to the Carolina Panthers. Now, fantasy managers need to make a decision heading into Week 11 as to whether or not Newton will be back in their starting lineups. Will the former No. 1 overall draft pick and one of the greatest rushing quarterbacks in NFL history make a return to fantasy football relevance?

Cam Newton will start in Week 11

The first box to check for Newton is whether or not he’s going to get the start at quarterback this week. It was stated in Week 10 that the ambition was to get Newton up to speed as quickly as possible so that he could take over as the starter.

Apparently, that goal has been reached. It was announced on Friday that Newton will start in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team.

What a fascinating matchup. Firstly, we get to see Newton go against his former head coach, Ron Rivera, who will be standing on the opposing sideline. These two know each other remarkably well. It’ll be a game of chess on the field to see who outwits who.

However, adding some confusion to the mix is the fact that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that P.J. Walker will “probably” play too — whatever that means. I would guess that he wants to use Walker in certain packages for some designed plays, while Newton handles a majority of the snaps.

Fascinating return to Carolina

After a 2020 season in New England that was up and down, marred by a battle with COVID-19 and an unimpressive group of wide receivers, Newton was cut in the preseason in favor of rookie Michael McCorkle Jones. (Yes, I will use his full name every single time.)

As a result, Newton became a free agent and remained so for the first half of the year. But with Carolina placing Sam Darnold on IR, the Panthers brought Newton back to where it all began.

In his first game, he ran for a touchdown on his first carry. Then, he threw for a touchdown on his first pass attempt. It was a John Wick level of “yeah, I’m thinking I’m back” for Newton.

We know what Newton is at this point in his career. He isn’t the most dynamic passer, but his rushing ability and ability at the goal line — he had 12 rushing TDs in 15 games for New England last year — helps his fantasy floor a ton. He also is blessed with Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Robby Anderson, who are capable of turning small plays into big ones.

Newton’s Week 11 fantasy outlook

Last year, the 12th-best QB in fantasy points per game was Kirk Cousins (19.9). Newton finished above that benchmark in six out of 15 games last season, including two monster performances with over 30 fantasy points.

I can’t stress enough what a cheat code rushing is for quarterbacks in fantasy football. Last year, in Week 17, Newton had 37.5 fantasy points on just 242 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns. That’s because he carried the ball 11 times for an additional 79 yards. A 29.6 fantasy point game (still a very solid day) went nuclear because of his rushing ability.

This week, Newton will face a Washington defense that is allowing the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year at a whopping 26.4. Newton looks to be not only a streaming option but a quarterback that could flirt with QB1 numbers this week.

Jon Helmkamp is a fantasy football and NFL contributor for Pro Football Network. You can find him on Twitter: @JonHelmkamp and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.