Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton drew his first start in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team. After plenty of struggles, he was benched in favor of Sam Darnold against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Will Newton play this weekend, and what should fantasy football managers expect from him in Week 17?
Cam Newton’s 2021 production
Newton has only played in six games this season, starting five of them. He’s thrown for 684 yards with 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on 126 pass attempts. He does boast 225 yards and 5 scores on the ground.
Newton flashed in limited snaps against the Arizona Cardinals in his first game back with Carolina. He threw a touchdown and ran one in on only seven plays.
Newton then posted 189 yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 attempts against Washington in his first start. He added 46 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground in that contest.
Since then, Newton has thrown 5 interceptions with only 1 touchdown, although he scored 3 TDs on the ground during that span. His lackluster performance led to him being benched after throwing another pick against Tampa Bay last week.
Will Newton play in Week 17?
Newton won’t start for Carolina in Week 17. The Panthers named Sam Darnold as the starter with Newton as his primary backup.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Newton won’t play, though. The Panthers have been rotating quarterbacks throughout the season, and Newton could regain control of the offense if Darnold struggles.
Newton will likely see some plays in various packages, specifically in the red zone. He could be used as a short-yardage or goal-line option for Carolina, but there wasn’t an announcement of this type of role.
How will this affect the Panthers’ offense?
Newton’s benching isn’t likely to affect the Panthers’ receivers much this week. He wasn’t an elite quarterback, and Darnold isn’t necessarily a downgrade at this point.
Instead, Newton could continue to affect this running back group. He’s been taking plenty of carries in the red zone, which limits the upside of Chuba Hubbard. Although there is potential that Hubbard could see a larger red-zone role, Newton will likely be the primary short-yardage option for Carolina.
Are fantasy points available vs. New Orleans?
There are plenty of fantasy points available to QBs against the Saints. They’re allowing the third-most fantasy points per game (19.3) to the position this year.
Still, New Orleans boasts arguably the best run defense in the NFL, so this wouldn’t be a matchup where Newton would consistently be able to use his legs. Darnold boasts more pure upside in terms of his arm, adding value to the Panthers’ receivers this weekend.
The Saints are also allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game (24.3) to opposing WRs this year. The Panthers should be playing from behind for the majority of this game, meaning Darnold could see upwards of 40 pass attempts.
Darnold’s struggles generally limit players like DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, but he’s flashed the ability to support high-end wide receiver weeks. Darnold isn’t an elite option, but Moore comes with plenty of potential in this matchup. Newton should be completely avoided, as his ceiling is potentially 1 rushing touchdown.