3 Lessons Learned After Week 12

Chris Allen reviews three noteworthy performances coming out of Week 12 and provides some advice for fantasy managers on how to approach their situations going forward.

Week 12 will be one of the first NFL weeks to last six days. With games starting on Thanksgiving and the final game ending on Wednesday afternoon, the fantasy community has been on constant alert for roster moves or game postponements. Regardless, we’ve got games to review and plans to make with the final game of the fantasy regular season up next. The Baltimore-Pittsburgh delay gives us an extra day to digest all of the action and I’ve found a few performances that warranted a deeper evaluation as we head into Week 13.

Quarterback: Cam Newton, Patriots

Week 11 Results: 21.3 (Projected), 4.0 (Actual)

The latest headlines coming out of Boston haven’t been encouraging. Cam Newton apologizing to Josh McDaniels after their ugly win over Arizona. Bill Belichick quickly defending Newton to the media when asked about potentially making a change at quarterback. Newton had his second-worst outing this year after failing to reach 100 passing yards for the second time. Without much rushing production, Newton has been outside of the QB1 conversation for the last two weeks with tough matchups ahead. Given his decline, I dug into Cam’s recent games and see if we can trust him as our starter for the remainder of the season.

Advice Moving Forward:

Newton falls into the QB2/streaming category with a tough schedule and obvious issues as a passer. The Cardinals’ defense emphasized a point that had been apparent throughout most of the season: Cam Newton breaks down under pressure. All three of his worst passing performances came when he faced a defense that had a pressure rate of more than 30.0%. However, as expected, Newton was able to save his day on the ground.

Week
Opponent
Pressure Rate
Passing Yards
Rank
7
49ers
35.7%
98
35th
8
Bills
26.4%
174
11th
9
Jets
24.2%
274
8th
10
Ravens
32.4%
118
12th
11
Texans
24.3%
365
14th
12
Cardinals
30.9%
84
28th

His weekly fantasy rank offset any concerns we had as a passer since Newton leads the league in both rushing attempts and touchdowns from within the 20-yard line. However, he actually needs to get to the red zone in order for him to capitalize on his skills as a rusher. In his three-game sample against elevated pressure, the Patriots were able to average 31.5 yards per drive. For comparison, Baltimore is averaged 31.7 yards per drive on the season and is ranked 26th in the league. Without pressure (and a similar sample size), New England would be comparable to the Kansas City Chiefs with 45.3 yards per drive. Newton has just one touchdown pass from outside of the red zone and it came in Week 11. The Patriots’ upcoming matchups are: Los Angeles (Chargers), Los Angeles (Rams), Miami, and Buffalo. The Chargers and Dolphins have pressure rates at 31.3% and 37.4%, respectively, and the Rams and Buffalo are both in the Top 10 for adjusted sack rate. With Newton on the decline, he’d be tough to start throughout the fantasy playoffs.

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