The days of Superman carrying your fantasy teams to the playoffs are over. Once a fantasy hero whose rushing and throwing ability made him the ultimate fantasy weapon, especially in 2015. We all loved Superman, but reality set in this week.
It's time for fantasy football owners to say farewell. Cam Newton, fantasy football's most valuable player in 2015, should now be out of the fantasy equation in everything but deep two-quarterback leagues. The case started building in 2016, but many remained hopeful for a rebound after Carolina added new weapons this offseason. Two poor weeks to start the year brought the concern back, but many clung to the cape one last time with the hopes of a turnaround.
Sunday presented Newton with a chance to turn things around in a matchup against the woeful New Orleans Saints defense. New Orleans holds a long track record of giving up big performances to opposing quarterbacks.
Before Week 3, New Orleans surrendered nearly 800 passing yards in two games and that came at home, a road trip to Carolina would only make things worse for them and better for Newton. Many ranked him as a consensus top-five quarterback play on the week with the chance to help carry fantasy owners to wins and DFS players to a big cash payout when they rostered him. Instead, Newton likely sealed the fate of anyone who started him.
Newton finished the day with 167 passing yards, three interceptions and zero touchdown passes. An unacceptable fantasy performance against a defense that allowed more 300-plus yard games last season (eight) than sub-250 yard games (three) last season. If you took away Newton's rushing touchdown on a one-yard keeper, he would've finished with 2.3 fantasy points. Single-digit production is a killer in fantasy football and Newton was lucky to crack five points.
Just watching Sunday's game, you saw several missed opportunities by Newton. Multiple opportunities for big plays, mechanical issues and just general overthrows and underthrows. Some of it might be related to his surgically-repaired shoulder and still lacking 100 percent confidence in it. But the mechanical issues, like not resetting as Derrik Klassen mentions, and struggles to pick up on what the defense showed him are another issue. A problem that no matter the situation around him, leaves major questions about his ability to help Carolina win games consistently and to put up decent numbers.
The blame doesn't all land on Newton though. Carolina's situation on offense quickly unraveled from poor to horrific. It comes from a string of injuries, decisions by the front office and changes in the offense.
One of the biggest mistakes came as a result of the front office. Carolina's unthinkable decision to sign left tackle Matt Kalil to a five-year, $55 million deal already seems to have backfired. Kalil remains a turnstile. He allowed seven pressures in the first two weeks and repeatedly got beat by the Saints in Week 3, which included letting Cameron Jordan walk right by him to sack Newton on a critical third down in the red zone.
Carolina's situation on the right side isn't much better with Daryl Williams allowing frequent pressure. A quarterback can live with some pressure coming off the edge, especially if the inside of the pocket stays clean. But when the offensive tackles allow as much pressure as Williams and Kalil have, it's critical for the interior offensive line to keep the inside clean for a few seconds. Unfortunately, center Ryan Kalil remains out with a neck injury and it's led to opponents getting pressure on the edge and right up the middle, turning Newton's potential physical issues with his shoulder into psychological issues with the threat of constant pressure coming in all directions and having to make decisions on throws too quickly.
With an offensive line that constantly allows pressure and hits on a quarterback still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, which the team made worse by delaying it long after he suffered the injury, it creates a mess. But injuries and Carolina's decision to let Ted Ginn depart in free agency have made things even worse.
The loss of Ginn takes away Carolina's vertical passing attack, one of the things Newton became so accomplished at over the past few years with his ability to rocket a ball 50-plus yards down the field and drop it in the bucket for a big play. That aspect of Carolina's offense is gone and with Newton's go-to option in Greg Olsen and the new injury to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, it now forces Newton to rely on Devin Funchess and Ed Dickson as his top weapons in the intermediate field. That's kryptonite for anyone, especially Superman.
While Sunday's game provided a ray of hope for Christian McCaffrey owners as the team moved him around and created touches for him in open space, it's not nearly enough to help turn things around in the near future for Newton. Until Benjamin returns, McCaffrey is likely the only player from this offense you can hold any sense of comfort in starting. Maybe Newton will get things on track towards the end of the season, but Superman is now someone to ignore for the time being in fantasy football