Cam Newton, QB Carolina Panthers

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Monday, August 24, 2015, 2:49pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton developed instant chemistry with Kelvin Benjamin after the Florida State wide receiver was selected in the first round of the 2014 draft.

They were like brothers almost immediately, whether they were combining for big plays on the field or delivering Christmas presents to students of local schools off the field.

Newton didn’t return to practice on Wednesday when Benjamin suffered a season-ending ACL injury until he helped the 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver onto the cart. He predicts there will be “hell to pay" when Benjamin returns in 2016.

Meanwhile, look for Newton to build a similar relationship with 2015 second-round pick Devin Funchess.

“He has to learn at an accelerated rate, but I’m taking him up under my wing," Newton said after Friday’s preseason victory over Miami. “I have full confidence in Devin that he gets it, sooner rather than later."

Fantasy Impact:

Funchess sat out of the 31-30 victory against the Dolphins with a tight hamstring, but he is expected to be ready for Friday night’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The plan was to have him on the field for Monday's practice as the Panthers begin the Charlotte practice phase of their preseason. Funchess could very well turn out to the be the team's WR1 this year, much like Benjamin ended up last year. He's bumped up our rankings to 45th.

Scouting Report

Cam Newton had a rough season in 2014. While the Panthers were able to back into a playoff spot and beat a devastatingly injured Cardinals team to advance to the second round, Cam struggled with injuries and protection issues all year. He still managed to finish the year with over 3,000 yards passing and 539 yards rushing, adding in 23 total touchdowns, which made him a solid fantasy option despite starting only 14 games.

Fantasy Upside
While Cam hardly ran the ball early in the season, as he got a little healthier, we started to see the old Cam Newton down the stretch. He averaged over 50 yards rushing per game in his last five starts, and the Panthers finished the season 3-2 to sneak into the playoffs. Cam has a new WR in Devin Funchess from the draft, will benefit from a healthy Jonathan Stewart in the backfield and is entering the season healthier than he was a year ago. All of this points toward the positive when evaluating his fantasy potential for 2015.

Fantasy Downside
There is always going to be downside with a quarterback who takes a lot of hits, and while his running ability and his huge stature make him an excellent fantasy option when he’s on the field, these traits are the same things that subject him to excessive hits that could limit his long term durability. Additionally, he has arguably one of the worst offensive lines in football and has never excelled at throwing a consistently accurate football. The injury to Kelvin Benjamin also could take its tole on the entire Panther offense if another young receiver can't step up.

Bottom Line
Cam is a top ten fantasy quarterback entering this season. While there are still questions about his game and his supporting cast, all indications are that the team around him is better now than it was a year ago, and that he’s healthier entering this season than he was in 2014. This should lead fantasy owners to think they’re more likely to see the late season version of the former Auburn standout than the early season player who only had 14 rushing attempts in his first four starts. Fantasy owners may get a steal with Cam as they pluck him up after the elite guys are off the board.

2015 Strength of Schedule - CAR
W1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8W9W10W11W12W13W14W15W16W17
17
@JAX
12
HOU
28
NO
16
@TB
BYE1
@SEA
29
PHI
21
IND
14
GB
22
@TEN
32
WAS
18
@DAL
28
@NO
20
ATL
26
@NYG
20
@ATL
16
TB

Schedule difficulty based on schedule-adjusted, positional defensive ranking. Top DEF = 1, bottom DEF = 32.

2014 Game Stats
WkOppCompAttPaYdsPaTDIntYPAYPCRuAttYdsTDFumYPRSnaps%
1TB--------------
2DET2234281108.2612.77419004.7567/67100%
3PIT2435250107.1410.4227013.5055/6289%
4BAL1425197107.8814.0727003.5055/6683%
5CHI1935255217.2913.4269011.5066/66100%
6CIN2946284216.179.7917107106.2984/84100%
7GB1731205116.6112.06741005.8658/6984%
8SEA1222171017.7714.251224012.0060/60100%
9NO1028151015.3915.10743116.1457/57100%
10PHI2540306237.6512.2426013.0082/82100%
11ATL2337292227.8912.70530006.0066/66100%
12BYE--------------
13MIN1835194115.5410.78949005.4474/74100%
14NO2133226306.8510.761283106.9271/7496%
15TB--------------
16CLE1831201116.4811.171263105.2579/79100%
17ATL1016114107.1211.40651108.5053/53100%
Totals262448312718126.9811.94103539555.23927/95997%

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