A shoulder injury cut short Cam Newton’s 2018 campaign
to just 14 games and limited his ability to throw the ball downfield
for most of the season. Newton was clearly not himself in his
final few games of action, often missing downfield targets by
a large margin and relying on check-downs more than usual.
On a positive note, Newton’s 68% completion percentage
was by far the best of his career, and he threw for 90 more yards
last season than the season prior, despite missing the final two
games of the season.
With his shoulder reportedly doing better and a new throwing
motion to help ease the strain on his body, Newton enters the
2019 season as a sneaky mid-to-late round QB with top 5 upside
at the position.
If he is able to play a full 16-game schedule, throw the ball
relatively accurately without pain, and continue to rush for nearly
500 yards and five touchdowns, Newton is an absolute bargain based
on his ADP.
McCaffrey proved his naysayers wrong who doubted his ability
to be a workhorse back on the ground and through the air. The
former first-round pick from Stanford led on running backs in
targets, receptions, and receiving yards while adding just less
than 1100 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground on 219 carries.
To put into context just how valuable McCaffrey was to fantasy
owners last season. Owning CMC was like owning two players in
one, with the rushing stats of Marlon Mark or Nick Chubb combined
with the receiving stats from Calvin Ridley.
CMC will continue to be a dual-threat running back and a workhorse
worthy of a top-five pick in all formats. The false narrative
of Cam Newton struggling to throw to running backs was put to
rest last season, as was the belief that Newton would take all
of the teams' goal line carries. The Panthers boast the 10th-easiest
strength of schedule with games against the Rams, Bucs, and Cardinals
to kick off the season.
A common narrative in the fantasy community is it takes a year
or two for rookie wide receivers and tight ends to get acclimated
to the speed and tempo of the NFL. Although there are some exceptions
to the rule, like Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas, most wide
receivers take a while to find their feet at the next level.
With just two touchdowns and 55 receptions as a rookie last year,
D.J. Moore would fit into the category of a young wide receiver
who did not break out in his first year in the league. The former
first-round pick from Maryland posted just one game of over 100
receiving yards, and his three games out of 16 with double-digit
fantasy points was not exactly what his fantasy owners expected
when he was drafted in the middle rounds last summer.
Now that Devin Funchess has moved on to the Colts via free agency,
Moore assumes the No.1 WR role (although some believe that may
be Curtis Samuel) for Cam Newton in the passing game. Newton is
reportedly throwing the ball much better after having off-season
shoulder surgery, and Moore is looking to take a step up in his
Look for Moore to get closer to 100 targets this season, which
based on his catch ratio from last year would give the young wideout
closer to 70 catches. If he can improve on his low touchdown rate,
Moore could be a viable low-end WR 2 in all formats.
Samuel, a former second-round pick out of Ohio State in 2017,
fell off the fantasy radar for most when the team used a first-round
pick on D.J. Moore in 2018. Samuel played sparingly as a rookie,
with just 15 receptions for 115 yards and zero touchdowns in 2017.
But he broke out in a big way in 2018, outplaying Moore with
seven total touchdowns on just 65 targets in 13 games. Samuel
proved to be a big-play guy for Newton and someone who Newton
could count on in the red zone. Now that Devin Funchess left the
team for the Colts, Samuel should get a full 16-game schedule
in and close to 90 targets from Newton.
According to numerous reports out of Panthers camp, Samuel has
been the best looking wide receiver on the team and looks primed
for a breakout season. Fantasy owners looking for a breakout candidate
from the latter rounds should place Samuel high atop their list,
as he could be the steal of the draft at his round 10 ADP.
Death, taxes, the sun rising in the east and setting in the west,
and Greg Olsen finishing with 38 targets in an injury-shortened
season due to a foot issue. These are things we all can count
on. Of course, the part about 38 targets is just a joke - but
it is a little odd that Olsen hit the 38-target mark for the second
season in a row.
In terms of fantasy production, Olsen was about as good as it
got prior to his foot issues in 2017 and 2018, with five consecutive
seasons of 16-games played and 100-plus targets. Although he has
yet to post a double-digit touchdown season in his storied NFL
career, Olsen is one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets and
is always near the top of the leaderboard among catches at the
tight end position.
At age 34 Olsen is no spring chicken, and he does not have the
same burst that made him a first-round pick by the Bears back
in 2007. But at a position like tight end, where options get pretty
slim outside the top three, Olsen could be a nice late round flier
who could be a top-10 tight end in 2019.