In this ADP Duel, we look at a couple of quarterbacks looking to return from injuries. Both Derek Carr and Cam Newton are healing from their respective surgeries and most owners in Fantasy have polar opposite perspectives on each player. Knowing the current state of health of a player leading into your draft is vital to your success. In most cases, some owners will be a little gun shy on a player, fearing that they are injury prone.
Fantasy owners worry about selecting the player who will consistently be absent from the starting lineup, causing them to play the waiver wire to stay above water until their guy is back to full health. Therefore, proper draft prep and staying up to date on all news leading up to draft day is so important.
Over the past couple of years, as the quarterback position has become packed with names that you can plug into your lineup on a weekly basis, any leg-up on the competition you can get is needed. With so many offenses becoming pass-happy, hurry-up style attacks, the opportunity for points scored is at an all-time high.
The third quarterback drafted could fall out of the Top 10, whereas a player taken as the 14th best could have a great year and sneak inside your Top 6 by the end of the year. Who will fit better on your team in 2017? Will it be the young and improving Carr, or the former MVP looking to rebound?
Derek Carr: FantasyPros ADP – 79
Over the past two seasons, Derek Carr has been showing improvement across the board with his accuracy and ability to limit turnovers. Even with these improvements, Carr has yet to pass the 4,000-yard plateau, putting a ceiling on his potential as a Fantasy QB1. This is very surprising considering the talent he has on the outside with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. But the real issue here seems to be that the coaching staff has yet to really let go of the leash and let this passing attack go to work.
Jack Del Rio has always been of the mindset that a balanced attack is what wins ballgames. Carr’s pass attempts have decreased in each of the last three years, but his completions have risen, even with a jaw-dropping 31 dropped passes in 2017. Turn half of those into catches and Carr would have risen even more in the QB hierarchy. Over the last two seasons, he has posted Top 10 numbers in nearly half of his starts, a number you could certainly expect to rise this season.
After breaking his leg to end the 2017 season, Carr has been patient with his rehab and is expected to be full healthy once training camp gets underway. His patience was also rewarded with a contract extension from the Raiders, putting even more pressure on him to perform this year. Even coming off a year of career-high marks in completion percentage (64%) and passer rating (111.5), there is always room for improvement.
His third-down completion rate (56.8%) and Yards per Attempt (YPA) (7.03) are middle of the road for a QB of his caliber. Even with the addition of Marshawn Lynch, look for the Raiders to rely on Carr and the passing attack even more in 2017, setting him up for a career year. He is currently coming off the board in the seventh round according to Fantasypros.com ADP as QB8, a ranking he could easily rise above as the preseason progresses.
Cam Newton: ADP 81
Talk about a fall from grace! That was Cam Newton’s 2016 season. The 2015 NFL MVP came off a Super Bowl losing effort and was one of the first QBs off the board in drafts last year. The Fantasy owners who made that selection were kicking themselves for one of the biggest busts in recent memory.
He finished the 2016 campaign as the 17th ranked QB, a far cry from the lofty expectations he carried into the year. Newton’s attempts were up, but completions were down. Both yardage and touchdowns decreased as well, while he had a big increase in turnovers. Sure, you could point to his supporting cast as being less than desirable, but a great QB can overcome that and bring out the best in the players he works with. I am of the mindset that the player we saw in 2015 was an anomaly, because aside from his rushing statistics, his passing numbers have been fairly mediocre throughout his NFL career.
To make matters worse, Newton is making a slow recovery from a torn rotator cuff, something that is very damaging to player who relies on arm strength like Newton. He is currently slated to begin throwing as training camp gets underway for the Panthers, which is not the best news for Fantasy owners to hear.
Aside from his rookie campaign, Newton has failed to top 4,000 yards passing over five straight seasons. Newton’s benefit to Fantasy owners has always been in his rushing stats, and according to Ron Rivera, that facet of his game will be severely dialed back in 2017. So, look for the Panthers to focus on the running game behind Jonathan Stewart and hot rookie Christian McCaffrey.
The passing game will perhaps move to a more simplified version with quick throws to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, allowing them to use the open field for more yards after the catch. His current ADP has him as QB9, coming off the board at the end of the seventh round, which seems like a lofty investment to me.
At the tail end of the seventh round, or even entering the eighth round, you could likely be faced with the decision between these two quarterbacks. Who will have the better statistical season this year? The answer should be Derek Carr by a mile. He has the better weapons in the offense, a better offensive line, and will be playing a schedule against some of the better quarterbacks in the league, which should put this team in many high-scoring games. But as you compare the two, Carr seems to be improving in all the right areas, while Newton is regressing in the worst ones. Even if your league rewards just four points per passing touchdown instead of six, Carr can still outperform Newton. Go with Carr as your QB1, and feel good about that pick, as you won’t have to deal with the headache that could potentially be Cam Newton.