Can Cam Newton Stay Healthy in 2020? (Fantasy Football)
Cam Newton, the man once referred to as Superman, finds himself at a crossroads in his career. “They gave up on me,” he says via his Instagram workout video a few days after being cut by the team that drafted him, the Carolina Panthers. Newton spent all nine seasons of his professional career in Carolina, putting up big-time numbers including a Super Bowl birth and an MVP award in 2015. Now, he’s playing in New England and making less money than Robert Griffin III, Josh Rosen, and Chase Daniel.
Along the way, Newton has also put up big-time numbers for our fantasy lineups, including five (FIVE!!) top-4 fantasy finishes at the QB position from 2011-2018. At his current average draft position of QB15 in the back half of the 10th round of fantasy drafts, is Cam Newton an injury value, or should drafters fade the former All-Pro QB?
*I would encourage all readers to check out my detailed article series on Cam Newton‘s shoulder – Part 1 / Part 2. These articles describe Newton’s shoulder injuries in detail and described his surgery as well as the long and short term prognosis heading into the 2019 season.
After reading these two articles, I would then encourage you to check out my thoughts on Newton heading into the 2019 season. Here’s a snippet of that article, because I think this sums up my thoughts on his shoulder perfectly. “Short term, I have no concerns about the health or status of Cam’s shoulder, and I think he absolutely smashes this ADP when we look back on the end of season fantasy rankings. Draft him with confidence in 2019 and don’t look back.”
Of course, that statement looks silly now after he sustained a Lisfranc injury in his left foot during the preseason. He, of course, went on to only play in two games prior to being shut down for the entire season. Throughout the year, Newton attempted to rehab his foot sprain, but ultimately, he underwent surgery in December. Fast forward to August 2020 – can fantasy gamers trust Cam Newton‘s health? Yes, and here’s why.
If you’ve purchased the Ultimate Draft Kit (you should), you’ll know that I discussed how big of a deal Alshon Jeffery‘s Lisfranc injury is heading into 2020. As predicted back in May, Jeffery is set to start the season on PUP, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting much out of Jeffery in 2020, even when he gets back on the field. But, what’s different about Alshon Jeffery‘s injury, which also required December surgery vs. Cam Newton‘s Lisfranc injury, and why am I so optimistic about Newton but not Jeffery? That, FootClan, is the million-dollar question.
The Lisfranc joint is actually a group of joints amongst several bones that connect at the middle of the foot. Below is a picture of that group of joints. As you can see, the group of joints connects the long bones of the toes to the heel, and the Lisfranc joint complex is located in the middle of the foot (around the arch), which is why you’ll often hear these injuries referred to as midfoot sprains.
Simply put, there are many types of Lisfranc injuries, all in differing degrees of severity. I don’t want you to fall asleep out of boredom, so I’ll keep this section short. Essentially, every Lisfranc injury is different. Some injuries involve a fracture. Some involve a ligament sprain or tear, and some include both a fracture and a ligament injury. When the bones break and the ligament is torn, the injury becomes unstable and always requires surgery in high-level athletes, as was the case for Alshon Jeffery. His injury occurred in December and he had surgery right away, indicating his injury was the most severe type of Lisfranc injury that occurs in NFL players.
Alshon Jeffery's 2020 outlook 📉📉📉
-30 years old coming off December Lisfranc surgery
-Return to play ~10 months post surgery
-Offensive players perform worse than defensive players
-21% reduction in performance in year one
-Outcomes worse w/ ⬆️agehttps://t.co/0YuknqpTlu pic.twitter.com/rDq6YpLGmS
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) May 25, 2020
How is Cam Newton‘s Lisfranc Injury Different?
While both Alshon Jeffery and Cam Newton had Lisfranc surgery in December, Newton’s injury occurred in August during the preseason. The next sentence is the most important in the entire article. Because Cam Newton attempted to rehab the foot and recovered in less than a month to be able to be ready for Carolina’s Week 1 matchup against the Rams, we can safely assume he did not have an unstable Lisfranc injury. Newton attempted to rehab the foot after not feeling 100% early in the season, but he was unable to recover back to 100%, and after the Panthers’ season started unraveling, he decided to have surgery, likely to stabilize the two bones at the location of the ligament injury. This should help improve the stability in the midfoot, which is absolutely crucial for an athlete to be able to sprint, accelerate, and change direction.
Newton’s Offseason Progression
Early in the offseason, Newton was seen working out, posting videos on his social media of him running, but it was primarily in a straight line – exciting, but not necessarily what we need to see to have full confidence. However, starting in June and July, Newton began posting workout videos of him running at full speed, practicing agility drills, jumping, and cutting. Based on what I’ve seen on video as well as what I’ve read in regards to Newton’s rehab, he has done extremely well over the past two months, so why wasn’t he signed prior to the end of July when the Patriots scooped him up on a team-friendly deal?
During the offseason, teams had limited access to Newton given the Covid-19 pandemic. If he would have been able to visit with doctors and the medical staffs for NFL organizations, there is no doubt Newton would have been signed sooner.
There are long term durability concerns with Newton, no doubt. He’s been hit the most by any QB in the league since he entered the NFL in 2011, and his game probably won’t translate into his late 30’s like that of a Tom Brady or a Drew Brees, as those guys are elite pocket passers. As a result, I’m a little bit lower on Newton in dynasty formats, but for 2020 alone, Cam Newton is 100% healthy to start the season. Another year removed from very mild shoulder surgery and coming off mild foot surgery, Newton presents a ‘buy-low’ opportunity in redraft leagues.
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