Every player who has a successful season as a rookie has to answer the sophomore slump question. The most dynamic rookie in 2011 was of course Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton. As we get closer and closer to our fantasy football draft day, one of the biggest questions on the mind of prospective owners is what to do with Newton. Will he suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump?
Part of the trouble with this question is what is considered a slump? Newton had one of the best statistical years for any rookie quarterback ever so if a slump is any drop in his statistics (let’s face it, we are fantasy football players, stats matter a LOT) it would be hard for him to not have a sophomore slump. Newton passed for 21 touchdowns and ran for 14 touchdowns. Those are – like Newton likes to show off with every touchdown – Superman type numbers. They are numbers we rarely see. What can owners expect this season?
Full disclosure here, from day one I will admit I was not a big fan of Newton. I wasn’t expecting anywhere near the success he had as a rookie. I am sold on Newton for this season, but I am not expecting anywhere near the statistics he put up last year. Many have said the addition of Mike Tolbert will take away some of Newton’s goal line carries. That might be true, but last year with two solid backs already there, Newton still got his carries. Tolbert is going to chip away at Newton’s stats, but more so for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
The biggest reason for a drop in stats for Newton in year two will have nothing to do with him and everything to do with his inability to sneak up on people this season. His first eight games of the season he had three games over 300 yards passing. In the second half of the season he had a grand total of zero. If you take away his two games against Tampa Bay in Week 13 and Week 16 – about the time the team quit on former head coach Raheem Morris – Newton threw six touchdowns in six games and rushed for three touchdowns in those same six games.
Newton should not drop off your quarterback draft boards. You should still feel comfortable drafting him in the second tier of quarterbacks, but to expect statistics like last year is unrealistic. Defenses were starting to figure out Cam Newton. Coming into this season Newton will not be able to sneak up on anyone. Expect him to be a top ten quarterback in the league. Just don’t expect him to have a Superman kind of season two years in a row.