Quarterback Cam Newton signed a one-year-deal with the New England Patriots worth up to $7.5 million, per league sources who told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. After suffering several injuries over the last couple seasons, including a Lisfranc injury that cost the quarterback 14 games last year, the Patriots have found their answer under center.
It’s important to note that learning the Patriots playbook has been notoriously difficult and given the late timing of this signing I would follow reports out of New England very closely over the coming months to see if Newton is even ready for Week 1.
The 2015 MVP finds himself right back in the QB1 discussion. Like years past, it comes down to his ability to rush the ball. Newton has always been a prolific fantasy option due to his rushing baseline, leaving Carolina with the third most rushing yards in franchise history. Slot him in as a backend QB1, high-end QB2 but temper your expectations. Newton’s passing ability has always been shaky, as his 59.6% completion percentage may suggest, and the argument can be made that Newton is simply washed up after numerous injuries have ravaged his body. His fantasy value must come on the ground as it always has, making him a risk/reward pick.
Running back James White benefits the most from this change. White was due for some regression with Tom Brady out the door. Brady’s quick decision making and trust with White was a big reason why the running back has racked up over 600 receiving yards in each of his past two seasons, finishing as a top 20 option in points-per-reception formats (PPR). Newton had plenty of success passing to the running back in Carolina, and while White is no Christian McCaffrey, he can get the job done in the receiving game. 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel also receives a small boost, as Newton can move this offense far better than Stidham or Hoyer, increasing the running back’s touchdown upside. Both can be drafted as RB3/flex options.
Similar to Michel, all wide receivers receive a small boost simply due to the fact that Newton is not either of the in-house options, but this shouldn’t change their outlook much. Newton is still an unreliable passer and that won’t change entering 2020. Veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman remains the wide receiver to draft, but taking a late, cheaper shot in 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry could be a better bet depending on Edelman’s average draft position (ADP) come draft season.
The tight end room for New England was a train wreck in 2019, and the team sought to rectify that in the 2020 draft, leaving the third round with both UCLA’s Devin Asiasi and Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene. Asiasi is the name to watch, as he was the more prolific receiver in college, touted for route running and body control. While it’s unlikely to see a rookie tight end produce for fantasy and the New England system is historically difficult for rookies to adjust to, it’s worth noting that Newton has always heavily targeted the tight end. Scott Barrett of ProFootballFocus.com charted where each quarterback’s career attempts went heading into the 2018 season, and Newton ranked fourth. He targeted the tight end position 25.3% of the time, so keep an eye out on the waiver wire in the beginning of the season for both Asiasi and Keene.