Patriots

Cam Newton fantasy football: ESPN updates its 2020 outlook for Patriots QB

Cam Newton fantasy football: ESPN updates its 2020 outlook for Patriots QB

Cam Newton's reported contract agreement with the New England Patriots has resulted in his odds of winning NFL MVP and the Comeback Player of the Year Award skyrocketing over the last 36 hours. 

His fantasy football outlook for the 2020 season also has changed.

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ESPN updated its fantasy projection for Newton following reports that he and the Patriots have agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden deal worth up to $7.5 million. He's ranked No. 26 on ESPN's ranking of the top quarterbacks for the upcoming fantasy season. Here is the network's analysis and stat projection for Newton now that he's expected to battle Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for New England's starting quarterback job.

2020 stats: 2,970 passing yards, 17 TD, 10 INT, 358 rushing yards, 3 rushing TD

Newton signed with the Patriots following nine seasons in Carolina. The dual-threat quarterback was playing some of the best ball of his career in 2018, but that campaign was cut short by a late-season shoulder injury and a foot injury derailed his 2019 campaign. Newton attempted only 89 passes and ran the ball five times in two games prior to being shut down for the season. Now that he's 31 years old, it's fair to wonder whether he can still be a factor with his legs and, if not, can he make up for it with his arm? Even missing two games in 2018, Newton finished top five at the position in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns for the eighth consecutive season, so it's very possible he has something left in the tank. He's worth a late-round flier, as he'll be back on the QB1 radar if he beats out Jarrett Stidham.

There are reasons to bet on Newton in 2020 when it comes to fantasy football.

For starters, his ability to score fantasy points with his legs is valuable. He's tallied 500-plus rushing yards in a single season five times in his nine-year career, and he's averaged 6.4 rushing touchdowns per season as well. The Patriots have a very good offensive line, which should be bolstered by the return of starting center David Andrews, who has been cleared to return after missing all of 2019 due to blood clots. New England's offense changed to become a power running team late in the 2018 season and was quite effective -- the Pats won Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots are well-equipped to fit their offense around Newton's mobility

From a passing attack standpoint, the Patriots have a few good wide receivers for Newton to target. Edelman remains one of the best slot receivers in the league and is coming off a fantastic 2019 season during which he hit both the 100-reception and 1,000-yard milestones. Mohamed Sanu, like Edelman, dealt with injury last season and it negatively impacted his on-field performance. He had offseason ankle surgery and should be in better shape by Week 1. Sanu isn't a star player, but when healthy, he's certainly capable of being a reliable target. Second-year wideout N'Keal Harry is another exciting talent in the Patriots offense. Injuries derailed his rookie season, but the Patriots liked his skill set enough to select him in the first round of the 2019 draft.

The pieces are in place for Newton to be a fantasy-relevant player next season if he wins the starting quarterback job in New England. Health is a very important factor in that, obviously, but before 2019 Newton had never missed more than two games in a single season. A motivated Newton, working with a coaching tandem of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, make the 31-year-old quarterback worth taking in your fantasy league's draft.

Cam Newton provides update after openly wondering how he'd 'mesh' with Bill Belichick

Cam Newton provides update after openly wondering how he'd 'mesh' with Bill Belichick

How well will Cam Newton and Bill Belichick work together, we've wonderedNewton asked himself the same question when he found out that the Patriots were interested in signing him earlier this offseason. 

He shared his thought process on YouTube during a roundtable discussion with Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham and Todd Gurley: "I said, 'Hold on. How, how is me and Belichick gonna mesh?' You know what I'm saying?"

Well . . . plenty of time has elapsed since then. Newton and his new Patriots teammates have been at Gillette Stadium this week going through what Belichick has compared to the NFL's typical "Phase 1," which usually takes place in the spring and consists of meetings as well as strength and conditioning workouts.

So how has it gone? How have Newton and his new head coach meshed?

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"Listen, listen," Newton said during a WebEx conference call with reporters Friday. "There's a lot of things that I say that there's a perception, but at the end of the day, it's football. I've loved it ever since I've been here. 

"I've been here, going on a week, now and you hear rumors about certain things, but once you finally get settled in on things like that, none of that really matters. It's just all about finding a way to prove your worth on the team."

Belichick has coached all types of personalities, and had success with all types, during his Patriots tenure. Tom Brady was different than Rob Gronkowski, who was different than Randy Moss, who was different than Corey Dillon, who was different than Richard Seymour, who was different than Willie McGinest, who was different than Tedy Bruschi, who was different than Matt Light. 

Newton is a unique personality with a unique skill set who may require a unique approach from the Patriots coaching staff when it comes to drawing out his best. And there may be some bumps in the road as the team finds the right path to maximizing Newton's stay in Foxboro. But for now, according to Newton, everything is going swimmingly. 

It helps that before Newton even set foot inside the team's facilities, they'd established a track record that has him ready to buy into Belichick's way of doing things. 

"I'm still constantly -- I don't want to say in disbelief, but it's just a surreal moment," Newton said. "Nobody really knows how excited I am just to be a part of this organization in (more) ways than one.

"Following up such a powerful dynasty that has so much prestige and lineage of success -- a lot of people would hide from the notion to do certain things, but for me, I think this opportunity is something that I wake up pinching myself each and every day."

Patriots' Cam Newton says there's nothing to worry about with his health: 'I feel amazing'

Patriots' Cam Newton says there's nothing to worry about with his health: 'I feel amazing'

Jarrett Stidham may feel like he has a chance to be the starting quarterback in New England. Bill Belichick may be looking forward to having an open competition at that position. But if Cam Newton really feels the way he says he does, the decision could be closer to final than anyone is willing to admit at the moment.

Asked if he'd be restricted at all by his surgically-repaired right shoulder, Newton replied in no uncertain terms. 

"At this part point in time, sir," he said, "I'm a full go."

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Newton needed to go under the knife in both 2017 and 2019 to fix up his shoulder. The most recent procedure came in January of last year, after a midseason hit to his right side in 2018 mangled the upper portion of his arm, impacted his delivery, and waylaid his performance in a season when through eight games he was near the top of the league in a number of statistical passing categories.

It was a foot injury in the summer of last year that limited him to just two games played in the regular season. That led to surgery in December. 

But almost a year removed from the foot issue, and 18 months removed from his most recent shoulder procedure, Newton told reporters on Friday that he has made his way to New England in very good health. After fighting through injury for each of the last two years, he may be closer to the Newton that beat up on the Patriots back in 2017 than anyone realizes.

"Just right now, for me, this season's not here yet so I do still have time," Newton said. "Working with the training staff here as well as having all the outlets at your disposal to get better and to be as confident come opening day, or when the team may need you, I think that's the most important thing. 

"As far as how I feel right now, I feel amazing. I feel great. Not any different than any other person in that locker room right now so I'm extremely optimistic about that. Through it all, it's just putting yourself in position to be in the best shape and having your body in the best possible situation when you actually need it."

Though he used words like "amazing" and "great" to describe his health, it sounded like Newton wanted to hedge a bit. Perhaps even he knows there's a lot that can happen between now and the start of the regular season when it comes to his well-being. After all, last time he got hurt badly was on the Gillette Stadium turf, trying to avoid a hit early in a meaningless preseason game. 

But for now he's healthy. And he's motivated. Some of that is inherent. He didn't necessarily need to be released by the team that drafted him, he didn't need to linger on the free-agent market for months to experience the sensation propelling him forward in this new chapter of his career.

"I don't have to prove nothing," he said. "Especially not to nobody. I have to prove to myself. That's a daily challenge. I don't think nobody's expectations will ever surpass my expectations for myself. I'm just looking forward to the challenge. 

"Knowing, picking up this whole system, not only the philosophical way of the offense but also how things are ran. This is a new team. I've only been geared by one particular team and one particular city. Now moving to a whole nother residence has kind of put the onus on trying to adapt. That has been the rather interesting part."

Still, there is a part of Newton -- a part that he's not afraid to show on social media -- that wants to let people know he's ticked. 

The Panthers get some, though he said he wishes them "nothing but the best," because he's been uprooted. The rest of the league gets some because it allowed players like Marcus Mariota and Andy Dalton to sign before him (and for more money). But he's using that as "fuel," he explained.

"Look, I wake up mad," he said. "Know what I'm saying? The fact that I'm not able to see my kids on a regular basis, that's what makes me mad. At the end of the day, for me, I'm not gonna dwell on the past. I'm a self-motivator. Even though the past is the past, I'm not gonna keep looking back."

That approach usually plays for Belichick and the Patriots. If it's the one Newton will carry with him to his new team, and if he's healthy, then odds are he'll be playing too.