By now you’ve heard that Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton was involved in a car accident. The good news is that he wasn’t seriously injured and was actually caught smiling immediately after the accident. Unfortunately, being “fine” after a car accident and good enough to play professional football are two very different things.
Newton reportedly still suffered two minor cracks in his back, similar to what Tony Romo sustained in week eight. Romo went on to miss one game and used a bye week to get back to full strength. Newton won’t have the luxury of a bye week to help him heal up, but his injury may cause him to at least sit out of this week’s action.
That’s bad news for a Panthers team still fighting for a division title in the horrid NFC South, while it’s even worse news for fantasy football owners who were hoping the Cam Newton of week 14 could show up again down the stretch and carry them to a league championship. Despite stinking it up for most of the year, Newton crushed it last week and suddenly looked healthy and effective. That was scary news for anyone going up against him this week, as he was about to face a very beatable Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. With a division crown still on the line, Newton was shaping up as a potential top-10 play in the fantasy realm.
That may no longer be in the cards, as Carolina is sure to exercise extreme caution with their franchise player. Trying to win the division and reach the playoffs is important, but the Panthers probably believe they can get past the Bucs even without Newton, and if they can they could welcome back their star quarterback in week 16.
Naturally, this news may have you looking for other answers at the quarterback position in fantasy football. Derek Anderson could be one option, as he’ll undoubtedly get the start this week in place of Newton. He’s not the worst play, either, as the Bucs have one of the worst pass defenses on the year. In such a big game, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the big-armed Anderson air it out and connect with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen early and often in a win. Of course, he’s also still Derek freaking Anderson, so there is serious risk involved.
Other options include Ryan Fitzpatrick, Robert Griffin III, Alex Smith and Johnny Manziel. Manziel is far and away the preferred player to take a shot on in that grouping, but each of them have favorable matchups and considerable upside this week. They’re all also still out there on waiver wires in at least 50% of fantasy football leagues. My personal pick is Manziel (who is inexplicably still available in 70% of leagues).