Cam Newton Back in QB1 Conversation

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 11 - It's easy to laugh off Cam Newton's declaration that he's back when his new-old Panthers team needed its Sunday win over the Cardinals to return to a .500 record. But at least in fantasy, you shouldn't ignore the possibility. Even when he underwhelmed as a passer at times in recent seasons, Newton never fared too poorly in fantasy. And while myriad shoulder and foot injuries may have lowered Newton's ceiling from his early-career top-eight fantasy standard, Newton threw the ball better in the preseason and could recapture QB1 value on the shoulders of his goal-line rushing.

Roster percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo.

AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers

60%/72%

Aaron Jones reportedly avoided a significant knee injury and may only miss a week or two with a sprained MCL. That Monday revelation more than halved my recommended FAB bid from the full 100% to 41%. But Dillon remains my top waiver option over Newton and should slot in as a top-10 fantasy back in Weeks 11 and 12 before a Packers bye. Dillon has excelled in the way one would expect of a 6-foot-0, 247-pound power back. His 2.8 yards after contact per attempt is the fourth-highest of backs with 50 or more carries since the start of 2020. But unlike J.K. Dobbins (2.1) and Ronald Jones (3.8) just ahead of him on that list, Jones has been a plus as a receiver, too. He has averaged 1.5 YAC+ per reception since the start of last year, top-20 among backs with 10 or more targets. With promising rookie teammate Kylin Hill also out injured, Dillon should serve as a temporary bell-cow back. And I wouldn't bet the house on Jones' healthy return in Week 14; Clyde Edwards-Helaire sprained his MCL in Week 5 and still hasn't returned to the field. Dillon has a shot at RB1 value in at least the start of the fantasy playoffs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 41%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

13%/16%

After a midweek signing, Newton sat behind P.J. Walker on Sunday and played just nine total snaps. But that was all he needed to spark the Panthers to an upset of the No. 1 DVOA Cardinals and put fans of the team like myself on a path to hyperbole. I'll do my best to play fantasy with my head instead of my heart and parrot the public sentiment that Newton is past his prime. But I suspect myriad shoulder and foot injuries contributed to Newton's 15th- and 17th-ranked fantasy seasons in 2016 and 2020, his only years as a regular starter outside the top eight at the position. And he has teased better shoulder health and passing mechanics both in the preseason and on Sunday. That may not be sufficient evidence to put Newton in my top 12 this Sunday. But I think it merits a substantial FAB spend if you need help at quarterback.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 36%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

29%/32%

With Damien Harris out with a concussion, Stevenson made the most of a spot start with 114 total yards and two touchdowns against a Browns defense that entered the week ranked fifth in run defense DVOA. That result lends confidence that with a healthier offensive line the Patriots can better handle their difficult matchups than they did when Harris totaled just 10 yards on 10 carries in Weeks 3 and 4 against the Saints and Bucs, both in the top four in run defense. And his 55% versus 19% and 27% snap share dominance over teammates J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden lends confidence Stevenson can match Harris' RB2 value whenever the latter player misses time. Stevenson has been Harris' equal this season with 2.0 yards after contact per attempt. And he ranks first among backs with 50 or more carries with a 60.0% rushing success rate. There's just no telling if more opportunities will come. Stevenson has yet to play more than 34% of snaps with Harris healthy. And if Harris can clear the concussion protocol and return to practice this week, there's no reason to consider him as more of an injury risk than any other lead back in football. Feel free to pay up for Stevenson as one of the better handcuff backs in fantasy. Just don't overspend with an expectation that he can offer RB2 value as a bye-week fill-in for Darrell Henderson or Melvin Gordon in Week 11.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 11%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots

54%/74%

Henry matched his teammate Stevenson with two touchdowns in a 45-7 Patriots drubbing of the Browns on Sunday. And while he fell 20 touches short of the standard Stevenson set, Henry strikes me as the better rest-of-season fantasy option, even if he demands less of a FAB spend to acquire in fantasy this week. Henry has a modest 13.9% target share even as he has been more involved since Week 4. That ranks just 20th at his position and will likely mute his demand from fantasy players. But Henry is also tied for the overall lead with seven touchdowns since Week 4 and is two scores ahead of C.J. Uzomah in second place at the position. And Henry has 4.2 expected touchdowns in that time, a total that trails just Cooper Kupp (5.0), Tyreek Hill (4.9), and Ja'Marr Chase (4.3) among all players. Even when tight end teammate Jonnu Smith plays, Henry looks like one of 2021's premiere red zone options. And so even with the target share of a back-end TE2, Henry should threaten TE1 status the rest of the season as a threat to lead the position in second-half touchdowns.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 10%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets

38%/51%

Moore provided 13.4 more PPR points on Sunday, a total that on its own suggests a continuation of his apparent Week 9 breakout. But the specifics of that total have me fearful this outburst won't continue. Moore played 60% of snaps in Week 9 and saw eight targets with Corey Davis out injured. But with Davis back in the lineup last weekend, Moore reverted to a 56% snap share and a total of six targets in keeping with his early-season workload that did little for fantasy players. Moore has scored three touchdowns the last two weeks, but he has just 1.3 expected touchdowns for the season. He'll need some targets closer to the end zone to continue his recent scoring streak. And unless Davis (84% snap share), Jamison Crowder (83%), or Keelan Cole (42%) suffers an injury or cedes more playing time, Moore will likely have to wait until 2022 to sustain some fantasy success.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 6%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings

40%/58%

With a 15% versus 82% snap share and five versus 27 touches, Mattison took his normal back seat to Dalvin Cook on Sunday. And barring a Cook injury, I don't expect that to change the rest of this season. But Cook is facing civil allegations that he assaulted and falsely imprisoned an ex-girlfriend. And while the NFL cannot place Cook on the commissioner's exempt list without criminal charges and seems likely to need months and some court resolution before they would consider disciplinary action, Mattison seems worth a precautionary add in case those circumstances change. Mattison took 32 touches in Weeks 3 and 5 with Cook out injured. He would likely be an RB1 if Cook were unable to play in any future weeks.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 6%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

78%/74%

At 5-foot-10 and with a 4.59s 40 time, Renfrow was never a candidate to replace what Henry Ruggs offered the Raiders. But Renfrow has enjoyed some subtle workload increases since the latter player's release. Renfrow's 65% and 72% snap shares the last two weeks aren't dramatically better than his early-season standard. But he matched his total of nine targets in each of the last two weeks just once in Weeks 1 to 8. Renfrow is a clear flex option in PPR formats. And despite his lack of size, Renfrow has supported his four actual touchdowns with 3.5 expected scores this season. His lateral quickness plays in the red zone and could make him as much of a threat to score as his bigger teammates and more direct Ruggs replacements such as Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, and DeSean Jackson.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 5%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Dan Arnold, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

28%/26%

The Jaguars fell short of a rally in Indianapolis that could have netted them their third win in four games. But the midseason acquisition Arnold has excelled in fantasy independent of his broader team's success. Since a ramp-up game with a 32% snap share in Week 4, Arnold has played at least 57% of snaps in each of his last five Jaguars games. And he has a 19.7% target share that is the eighth-highest at the position since Week 5. I view Arnold as a TE1 the rest of the season. But even so and even with his projected point cushion over more heralded fantasy players such as C.J. Uzomah and Evan Engram, I wouldn't overspend on the waiver wire. Arnold has barely reached 25% roster rates despite more than a month of consistent performance. You can likely snag him at a discount. And even if you can't, there are a few more comparable tight ends that I'll detail shortly.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

33%/50%

I have been reluctant to make Bateman a waiver priority in recent weeks. Lamar Jackson may have improved his passing efficiency and increased his wide receiver target rate from 42.8% last year to 56.7% this year, but Bateman had his early success with Sammy Watkins out injured. I was skeptical that Bateman could continue his fantasy relevance when he, Watkins, and Marquise Brown all shared the field. Well, if Week 10 is indication, Bateman can do just that. With Watkins healthy enough to play at least 32% of snaps, Bateman dipped from a snap range of 63% to 66% just slightly to 55% on Sunday and tied his season-high of eight targets. Bateman has seen between six and eight targets in all four of his games this year, and he has offered Jackson a different skill set in a receiver target than the more explosive and less consistent Brown and Watkins. Bateman is tied for 10th among receivers with 25 or more targets with a 60.7% receiving success rate. That lands Bateman just between Cole Beasley and Cooper Kupp and makes him a strong choice for a third-down role that could prop Bateman up in PPR formats even if he trails Brown in both target share and explosive plays.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

48%/60%

Freiermuth had his worst game against the Lions on Sunday. He produced just 31 yards on his nine targets and lost a fumble at the end of overtime that cost the Steelers their chance to kick a game-winning field goal. But by and large, I remain impressed with the rookie tight end. And barring a team reaction to that one poor performance, Freiermuth is trending toward TE1 value. Since JuJu Smith-Schuster went down with a shoulder injury, Freiermuth has played 60% or more snaps in four straight games and has a 19.3% target share since Week 6 that is 10th-highest among tight ends.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

67%/74%

Ingram should probably have the same fantasy expectations as Rhamondre Stevenson. The former back played a bell-cow role with an 85% snap share and 18 total touches in relief of Alvin Kamara on Sunday. And Kamara had a chance to play last week and seems like a strong bet to play in Week 11 dealing with a reportedly minor knee sprain. But I suspect Stevenson will require more FAB because concussions have varying timetables of recovery and because Bill Belichick is always a threat to reshuffle his running back depth chart. Kamara will start whenever he's healthy, and that caps Ingram's value as one of the better fantasy handcuffs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Devonta Freeman, RB, Baltimore Ravens

44%/58%

The Ravens had a short Week 10 with a Thursday night game in Miami, so it was little surprise to see normal starter Latavius Murray on the sidelines again. Murray will have a better chance to return after 10 days of rest in Week 11. Still, I won't be ready to pass back the fantasy torch until I see Murray on the field. He hasn't practiced since he sprained his ankle in Week 6. And with as few details as we have learned from head coach John Harbaugh, it's easy to imagine Murray missing the same seven weeks Jerry Jeudy did when he hurt his ankle in Week 1. That timeline would put Murray back on the field in Week 13 and make Freeman a flex option for another few weeks. In Murray's absence, Freeman has averaged 11.0 touches per game and supported his three rushing and receiving touchdowns with 2.3 expected scores.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings

38%/30%

I offered modest FAB recommendations for Henry, Arnold, and Freiermuth because of the other decent waiver options at the position. Conklin is likely the safest of those thanks to a 15.1% target share that is 15th-best among tight ends this season. You shouldn't expect more two-touchdown outbursts like he had on Sunday. The Chargers were a plus matchup, boosting tight end touchdown rate by 34% even before the Vikings game. But Conklin has supported his three touchdowns this season with 2.6 expected scores and should provide at least some weekly upside with his consistent TE2 target share.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills

76%/74%

If you'd rather take a swing on a possible TE1, Knox is a better bet. He demonstrated his floor with one catch and 17 yards in his return from a broken hand. And even his 12.1% target share before the injury put him outside the top 20 at the position. But Knox is also third among regular tight ends with 9.7 expected touchdowns per 100 targets this year. Even with the risk of a potential impact for his hand injury, Knox could threaten Hunter Henry (10.1 expected touchdowns per 100 targets) for the second-half touchdown lead as Josh Allen's preferred end zone target.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team

50%/54%

A week ago, I had Thomas ahead of every tight end I have discussed as a waiver option this week. He represents more than the potential of small-sample trends—he finished fourth among tight ends in PPR scoring just last season. But Thomas became sore as he ramped up his practicing in his attempted return from a hamstring injury. And with the latest updates from head coach Ron Rivera, Thomas seems more likely to me to return to the field in Week 12 or 13 than in Week 11. I would definitely stash him in deeper leagues. But in shallow formats, Thomas may be difficult to hold as the bye weeks continue and when compelling tight end options such as Freiermuth and Knox are startable now.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears

18%/25%

Fields has a scary-looking -42.4% passing DVOA that is worst among regular quarterbacks this season. But he put himself in a tremendous hole with a -119.1% DVOA debut with nine sacks in Week 3. He has done better since then and even has positive DVOA games in two of his last four starts. With a bye week for his coaches to refine their play calling for his skillset, Fields could continue his upward trajectory in the second half of the season. And he may not need much passing advancement to earn fantasy consideration. Fields has ramped up his running from three carries in Weeks 3, 4, and 5 to six, eight, 10, and eight carries in his last four games. Since Week 7, Fields has averaged 16.5 fantasy points per game, 17th-highest at the position.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams

55%/58%

Jefferson seemed like the loser of the Rams' acquisition of Odell Beckham. But then news broke on Friday that Robert Woods tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. And now I'm wondering if Jefferson might be the Rams' No. 2 receiver and not even behind Beckham. It played out that way on Monday night when he more than doubled Beckham up with seven versus three targets. And while you could dismiss that disparity because of Beckham's lack of prep time with his new team, Jefferson had also played 94%, 84%, and 96% of snaps and seen seven, six, and seven targets in Weeks 7, 8, and 9. He could have flex value the rest of the way.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

49%/34%

Like Logan Thomas, Shepard may need more than his bye week to fully recover from an injury—a left quad strain in his case. But if you have the bench space, Shepard is good player to preemptively roster. He saw nine, 10, and 14 targets in his three healthy games this season and could return to WR2 value just in time for the fantasy playoffs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Tennessee Titans

2%/4%

Adrian Peterson played the same 33% snap share in Week 10 than he did in Week 9. And if that settles the Titans into a three-back committee, then none of Peterson, Foreman, or Jeremy McNichols will have fantasy value in shallower formats. Still, I think it's worth considering that Foreman increased his snap share from 21% last week to 35% on Sunday. His 3.7 yards per carry do not impress, but they do nearly double Peterson's 2.3-yard average on a similarly small sample. And if the Titans prefer what they have seen from Foreman, then maybe he could assert a leading early-down role that enables the flex value I originally expected from Peterson.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Wayne Gallman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

1%/1%

Cordarrelle Patterson sprained his ankle on Sunday and seems unlikely to make it back on the short turnaround for Thursday Night Football. And while that opens the door for another Falcons back to have fantasy value, Mike Davis and the universally available Gallman are more difficult sales than their more versatile teammate. Patterson owes his top-seven fantasy standing to a 14.6% target share that ranks eighth among running backs. Neither Davis nor Gallman seems likely to match that in even the short term. And that places their fantasy fates in the hands of an offensive line in the bottom six with 3.89 adjusted line yards. Gallman out-carried Davis 15 to four on Sunday. And while a multi-touchdown loss could explain that disparity, Davis has also been a bottom-two back in rushing DVOA. I would add Gallman in formats where backs with double digit touches per game are gold. But Davis never made it to 75 total yards in his early-season run as a starter. Even if Gallman takes that role, I wouldn't expect dramatically better results.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players on More Than 80% of Rosters to Add

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (92%/97%)
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (90%/93%)
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears (89%/94%)
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks (89%/91%)
Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns (88%/90%)
Odell Beckham, WR, Los Angeles Rams (88%/89%)
Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets (88%/87%)
D'Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns (88%/81%)
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (87%/94%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (87%/92%)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (87%/85%)
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos (86%/88%)
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (86%/88%)
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers (86%/87%)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos (85%/89%)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (85%/84%)
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (83%/89%)
Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals (64%/81%)

Players on More Than 20% of Rosters You Can Drop

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (87%/86%)
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals (85%/82%)
Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans (82%/75%)
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (64%/49%)
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (54%/34%)
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (50%/50%)
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions (47%/41%)
Marquez Callaway, WR, New Orleans Saints (40%/34%)
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (34%/19%)
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (28%/43%)
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (28%/22%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (27%/16%)
DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (26%/15%)
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (24%/29%)
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23%/19%)
Carlos Hyde, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (18%/20%)
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team (16%/15%)
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (15%/21%)

Comments

11 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2021, 4:58pm

1 league wth 10 teams qB slot…

league wth 10 teams

qB slot and superflex slot. most team s start a QB there.

I draftyed Murray and Herbert and za. wilson. Dropped Wilson a couple weeks ago. ued Love and walker last two weeks due to Murray's injurty. Added Newton before signing with Carolina was announced. Now an start Newton thiss week if Murray out again

10 One guy did atart a tight…

In reply to by asleep06

One guy did atart a tight end in superflex spot and won. Almost always someoen starts a QB there but no harm to set it up as QB/WR/RB/TE

2 dst

DST question: I have tenessee right now, but Miami is available.  Any suggestions on which would be better for this week?  Tenessee is projected for more points but the jets offense is such a tempting mess to play against.

6 Re: DST

In reply to by McKrackenfield

I actually project the Dolphins (8.5 projected points in Yahoo scoring) to beat the Titans (7.5) this week, so I would make that switch.

4 Fields or Burrow

I have Mahomes on a bye next week.  What do your projections show as the better option next week between Fields or Burrow?

8 ROS: Hock or Schultz

Who’s a better option ROS at this point, Hockensen or Schultz?  Thanks!

9 Re: TEs

I have Hockenson (88.4 proj PPR pts) well ahead of Schultz (75.1) the rest of the season.  Schultz has seen his target share fall from 19.3% in Weeks 1-5 to 12.9% since.

11 Update!

In reply to by Scott Spratt

How does this change with Goff and Cooper out (specifically for next week when Kelce is on bye)?  Also, how much would you bid on Gallup with Cooper missing two games?  Thanks!