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Hey, wait, where’d all my receivers go?

Why you no like Cam Newton? What did Cam Newton do to you? Be a top-4 overall scorer just last year? A top-5 QB in all three of his NFL seasons? Late round gold in 2011? Why all the hate? Why is Newton being drafted after guys like Cordarrelle Patterson, Shane Vereen, Ray Rice, Jordan Cameron, and Joique Bell? Those are three committee backs, a TE who had a boom early last year and disappeared for another large chunk of it, and a receiver who’s tied to a Matt Cassel run offense. Seriously! I gots mad questions yo! I’ve seen these sorts of players drafted ahead of Newton in almost every draft I’ve done on numerous sites. He’s currently rated 45th overall on ESPN and 54th on Yahoo, and I’ve gotten him in the 7th round a couple times already this year, in 12 team leagues at that. If past performance holds true, It’s safe to say he’ll outperform that draft position.

I think the reason so many of you are staying away from Newton is his giant set of teeth. Those pearly white chompers are just too perfect. I bet he needs an extra large toothbrush, that’s a ton of surface to cover. Yes this probably isn’t the best reason to distrust someone but it’s the only one that makes sense of this ADP. Let’s think about this, he was the 4th highest scoring player in RCL’s last season and he played a portion of it banged up. Though there is some concern with him returning from offseason ankle surgery, and the thumping noise (medical term!) it’s making. Could we just be in for an adjustment in style? Could we be in for a season of him actually throwing the ball exclusively? Like 90 pass-10 rush? Is he going to turn into Drew Bledsoe? Nope not going to happen. Sure the Panthers could call more passing plays but there’s no way they will eliminate their read optionish play book. I do expect to see some progression in the pocket this year from Newton, but it’s not like he’s ever been a poor NFL passer. He’s been a true duel pass/run threat since he came into the league. I’m not sure there’s ever been a duel threat type QB who was as good a runner and passer as Newton. He has the ability to be the best QB in fantasy if his passing stats get a bump and he gets just enough goal line carries.

The real gamble besides his ankle with Newton is his receiving core. After the Panthers let Brandon LaFell, Steve Smith, and Ted Ginn Jr. walk. The Panthers drafted Kelvin Benjamin a 6″5 240 pound red zone threat out of Florida State. They signed veterans Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and Tiquan Underwood. They return Tight End and Newton favorite Greg Olsen, and added some depth behind him in signing Ed Dickson from Baltimore. Much of the fuss over his lack of weapons is exaggerated and off base. I’d contend depending upon what Kelvin Benjamin can be, this could turn out to be his best. If Benjamin can come into the league and be a big possession receiver, who can make the tough catches through the middle, and haul down jump balls for first downs and touchdowns, then the rest of the supporting cast settles in nicely. Cotchery had a damn fine season in Pittsburgh hauling in 60 balls and 10 TD’s. He’s fine as your #3 option, behind Olsen and hopefully Benjamin. Add in the running game and you have a pretty solid offense with a trustworthy O-line and brand of football.

As for the concerns about his diminishing rushing yards, I accept that he may never run for 700+ yards again, but running for 600 yards and 10+ TD’s isn’t out of the question. He’s still going to get his scrambles, carries in the red zone offense and will always get the rock on the goal line. Let’s not forget this guy set the QB record for rushing TD’s as a rookie, that’s not by accident. I’m also intrigued by the talk of Carolina using two tight end sets with Olsen and Dickson, similar to Olsen and Jeremy Shockey a few years ago. That sort of look with one or even two of their three usable backs behind him, could open up some lanes, and potential to scheme up creative ways to get Newton some room to run. Whether Mike Shula is up to the task remains to be seen.

I strongly believe that Newton will put up top 10 numbers overall once again. He’s just that talented and he knows how to play the position. If I had to predict a stat line or the world was going to end, I’d first be puzzled that predicting Cam Newton’s 2014 stats would save civilization and then I’d quickly blurt out 3,900 Yards, 28 TD’s, 11 INT’s, 560 yards rushing 8 TD’s. That’s the production of a useable QB and an goal line vulture type running back, and all from one player. The best part is you can draft this player after your first four picks. Bananas! This would allow you to take 2 receivers and two backs, prior to taking a top 5, possibly top 3 QB. That’s value no matter how you slice it. Newton could be the difference maker on many a championship squad in our fake game this year.

  1. Lm says:
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    Would u rather draft Cam in the 7th or Foles on the 8th?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lm: I’d take Cam earlier than the 7th even. I’ve grabbed him in the 5th almost every time he’s been there. I like Foles but I’m not sure he’s got any shot of competing for the top spot in scoring like Newton does.

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      Probably Cam.

  2. Nathan says:
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    I agree completely! Awesome write up. Cam could be a monster this year without old Steve Smith Sr.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Nathan: Thanks brother! yeah I think Kelvin should be an upgrade as the top option.

  3. Clint says:
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    I agree Cam’s a bargain but I think what scares people the most is the conservative offense combined with lack of playmakers beyond Olsen who himself is pretty “blah.” You’d think with them not having premiere pass catchers a guy like D-Will would morph into Sproles-light & Cam’s numbers would improve a lot but they’ve never formed the offense that way from what I can see. A guy that has skills but his games typically end via defensive stands in the range of 20-17 in the era of passing football is one fantasy leaguers fear, perhaps wrongfully so.

  4. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    Fair enough, I guess I’m not as sold on his lack of playmakers. Sure it’s not Denver, but he’s got something in Olsen, Benjamin, Cotchery, Stewart, Tolbert, Williams, and Avant. If Benjamin can turn into the type of receiver I see him being, which is a Demaryius Thomas type, it changes everything. I also think Cotchery and Avant are underrated, both have very reliable hands and bring more to the table than people think.

    I agree that the play calling is conservative. I’m hoping that the second season of Shula being in charge of the offense sees him get more aggressive with his approach. He knows Cam as well as anybody having been the QB coach in 2011 and 2012. Maybe he opens it up.

    • Clint says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz:

      Cam seems to be a pretty hard guy to predict this year in drafts. Seems every site I look at is extremely high or extremely low on him. Wonder how consistent his ADP’s been being you said you got him in the 7th round?

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        ralph lifshitz says:
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        @Clint: In fact (and more on this later) I got Cam in the 7th round of the writer’s league on Saturday and I think I could have waited. I want to say it was the Doc but one of the guy’s mentioned he was going to take him a few picks before me and went in another direction. I think 7th is fine, I would have no issue with anybody drafting him in the 5th.

  5. Bill says:
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    Don’t want to be that guy but I will be since I’ve seen this a few times on Razzball: just want to say that it’s receiving “corps” and not “core”. Like Marine Corps. Just a heads up.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Bill: Hahaha you are 100% right! Damn Homophones! duly noted, I should have caught that.

      • Chicken Dinner says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: You’re FIRED!!!

          • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: weird thing is i’ve seen “Marine Core” much more often than “WR core”, although i’ve personally never written WR core myself. can’t remember seeing it either (this could be from just hearing WR corps in my head even when reading anything else meaning it)

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey: I make a dumb typo about once every five write ups. I wrote sirname instead of surname a few weeks ago. It happens…..Lol

  6. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Am I also sensing here that you are placing a pretty high amount of faith in Benjamin being a factor as a WR3 this year? Is there potential there for something more immediately, maybe borderline WR2? Or is that type of value more based on his chemistry w/Cam and his overall development going forward?

    Great write up, love me some Cam too!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders: I think there is huge potential for Benjamin this year. I think he’s got the ability and situation to be a WR3, maybe a borderline WR2 in 12-14 if all goes well. I like the whole rookie WR class to be honest. This should be a good one.

      • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Unrelated to this crop of rookies, what are your feelings toward Markus Wheaton in PIT? He has some serious skill and with the departure of Sanders and Cotchery he should become the #2 option ahead of Lance Moore? Could he be a WR2 at a decent value?

  7. Allan says:
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    Ralph got a keeper question for you. In a 14 team non ppr we can keep one. I can keep Lacy in the 3rd or Keenan Allen in the 16th or Ellington in the 16th. What do you think?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Allan: What are great problem to have. I think you go Lacy here. Then target a pair of top 10 WR’s . Allen and Ellington are both steals that late but Lacy is a first rounder. I’ve seen him go as high as 5 and consistently 6-8.

  8. Kevin says:
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    Would you rather keep Cam over Keenan Allen in a 14 team PPR? All TDs are 6 pts. Kinda flipping a coin on this one…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Kevin: Cam, you’ll come to find out I’m not a big Allen guy.

  9. Good article but I’m not drafting a guy who went around stealing laptop computers in college.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Bill Clinton: hahahaha I have a buddy who went to Auburn with him and he claims that he’s a pretty nice guy. It’s college and he was at Florida. They’ve produced some model citizens of late. It was probably initiation into the team.

  10. Steve Stevenson says:
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    10-team dynasty, TD heavy (non-PPR, no yardage bonus, no fractional pts), I have #9 pick in each round of this week’s rookie/FA draft. We start 2 WR and a RB/WR flex (usually a RB for me). My WR are Dez, Roddy, Allen and Edelman.

    I’m liking Benjamin. Where do you have him among the rookie WR? Would you grab him at 9, or hope he slides to 2nd round? In addition to the rookies, some veterans that may go in the draft are Gerhart, Pierce, Maclin, Britt, Wheaton, Sanders, Rudolph and Bennett.

    • Steve Stevenson says:
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      @Steve Stevenson: Add Ertz, L. Green and J. Hunter to that list of vets.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        ralph lifshitz says:
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        @Steve Stevenson: Wow that’s a tough call, I can say this I think that Benjamin will have the best season of any of the rookie wideouts. he seems to already have some chemistry with Cam. Newton needs a go to guy, and Benjamin can be that. The thing that really excites me about him is his redzone upside.

        Now with that said with names like Gerhart, Sanders, and Hunter I’d take those guys first but if we’re looking at Green or a Kenny Britt I’m going Benjamin.

        • Steve Stevenson says:
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          @ralph lifshitz: Thanks. I may just go Benjamin at 9 unless somehow someone like Hyde slides to me. There are always a couple owners who do dumb stuff in the draft, so usually by my 2nd pick there are still multiple veteran targets on the board. I’m hoping this year they go after all the hyped TEs, since I don’t need one.

  11. Agree 100%….Cam is a steal this year with where he is going in most drafts. Great write up!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @bradsgotmoxy: Thanks Brad! You got moxy…..

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