Draft Zone: 4th Ranked Quarterback – Panthers Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers Cam Newton is the 4th ranked quarterback in this year’s 2013 fantasy draft standings. With an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 28, he’s likely to be taken sometime in the third round of most fantasy drafts. Newton is coming off a mixed sophomore season in terms of his fantasy production. With 3,869 passing yards, 741 rushing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, and 7 rushing touchdowns, Cam was a point-scoring force during the second half of the season.

Newton’s versatility is in question for the 2013 season with Mike Shula stepping in for his first season as offensive coordinator. Throughout training camp and the preseason, the Panthers have significantly cut down on the number of quarterback run-designed plays. The coaching staff made it clear that they want Newton to stay in the pocket more and run around a lot less.

Newton ranked 3rd in the NFL last year with 7.98 yards per passing attempt. With only 485 passing attempts last season, Newton can certainly throw for a lot more than 3,869 yards in 2013. If he can sustain a similar average for 550 attempts during the upcoming season, he can easily eclipse 4,200 yards. Yet his accuracy is more of an issue than his ability to rack up yards.

Newton has only proven to be an average passer during his first two seasons. In 2012, Newton ranked 26th in the NFL with a 57.7% completion rating and threw 12 interceptions on top of his mediocre 19 touchdowns. If he’s given more attempts, he will have to put up much better numbers if he wants to prove himself as a passer. Newton owners could very well see a considerable decrease in his rushing production for 2013. An increase in passing could help make up for it, but it likely won’t fill the void completely, especially if he has trouble with his accuracy.

With the winds of change altering the Carolina offense, Newton could become third round liability for your fantasy team. It might make more sense for your fantasy peace of mind to wait a bit longer and draft a more proven passer.

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