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Fantasy Football Believe It or Not: Add Cam Newton, drop Dalton Schultz, start A.J. Dillon and DeVonta Smith

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How much fun was Week 10? Cam Newton returned and produced touchdowns on his first two plays back for the Panthers and Tom Brady retur… oh, that wasn’t Tom Brady? Then we probably need to have a serious talk about Mac Jones, as well as the terrible tight end position, and a couple of potential league-winners who had major breakouts in Week 10. But I think we have to start with Cam.

Cam Newton is going to be Fantasy relevant in one-QB leagues

The Case: The Panthers coaching staff made a concerted effort to get Newton involved despite the fact that he only had a couple of practices with the team this week. That’s a pretty great sign for the future. While they haven’t named Newton the starter, I’d say it’s a fair bet he’ll start Week 11 and his next three games will be against the Washington Football Team, the Dolphins, and the Falcons. All three of those defenses rank in the bottom third of the league against quarterbacks. 

The Verdict: Believe it

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At the very least, Newton is a bye-week replacement in any of these three matchups. But nobody has given up more Fantasy points to QBs than Washington and Atlanta, so he could be much more than a bye-week replacement.

With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson, this is arguably the best set of weapons Newton has ever had. And he clearly has a coaching staff that is invested in using him the right way. Newton could absolutely be what Jalen Hurts has been this season, and Hurts currently ranks QB9 in Fantasy points per game. 

If Newton is available in your league and your quarterback situation isn’t settled for the next month, he should be a priority.

Mac Jones will be the best QB from the 2021 class

The Case: It’s probably not fair that Jones lives in the shadows of the quarterback he displaced in training camp, but that’s kind of been the story for Jones since the NFL draft. And all he’s done is prove people wrong. He has the Patriots at 6-4, currently in the playoffs, and his 94.1 passer rating ranks fifth amongst all first-year QBs since 2000. 

I made the joke in the open about Brady returning to New England, so I want to be clear: I’m not saying Jones is Tom Brady. That’s not fair. I will say that when watching Jones’ cook on Sunday, that it was impossible to not notice similarities. He has full command of the offense, which is remarkable for a rookie quarterback.

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The Verdict: Do not believe it.

To be clear, there’s a reason I used “will be” instead of “is”. Because there should be no debate who is currently the best quarterback in this class. It’s Mac Jones. But quarterbacks generally take a big leap in Year 2, so I’m not ready to say Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields are what we’ve seen from them so far. And we haven’t seen near enough from Trey Lance yet.

From a Fantasy perspective, I’d still put Jones fourth in this class, ahead of Zach Wilson, behind Lawrence, Fields, and Lance. But the gap is shrinking.

A.J. Dillon is a top-5 RB if Aaron Jones misses time

The Case: Jones sprained his MCL in Week 10 and Dillon didn’t skip a beat. The second-year back delivered 128 total yards and the only two touchdowns in a 17-0 win over the Seahawks. It would not be surprising at all if Jones is out until at least the Packers‘ Week 13 bye, which would open up the door for more games like Sunday, where Dillon received 23 touches. As long as Jones is out, Dillon isn’t just a starter, he’s one of the most valuable backs in Fantasy.

The Verdict: Believe it.

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The Packers are already without Kylin Hill for the rest of the year, so Dillon should get a much bigger share of the running back touches than we normally see from Packers’ running backs. And there are few offenses that lean on their running backs like the Packers. 

Of course, this isn’t just a volume thing. From a size/speed perspective, A.J. Dillon is the closest thing we have to Derrick Henry. And Dillon has surprised even his biggest supporters with how good he’s been in the passing game, picking up 196 yards on just 18 targets so far this season. 

As Adam Aizer said on Sunday night’s podcast, top-five might be too low.

DeVonta Smith is a top-20 WR rest of season

The Case: It’s not uncommon for rookie wide receivers to break out in the second half of the season and that’s exactly what Smith appears to be doing. He has nine catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games. More impressive is the fact that he’s done this on just 12 targets. 

Smith has a tough matchup in Week 11 against the Saints, and he has a bye in Week 14, but outside of that, he has one of the best remaining schedules of any wide receiver. He could absolutely win some leagues in the Fantasy playoffs.

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The Verdict: Don’t believe it.

The 12 targets really concern me. Especially since the Eagles have been so consistently run-heavy in their past three games. Jalen Hurts’ 23 passes in Week 11 were way below league average, but also his most since Week 7. 

There will be teams that force the Eagles to throw more. The Saints, with their league-best run defense, may do it this week. But the Eagles don’t have a good offense on their schedule until Week 18, so it’s hard to imagine them being down two scores very often. So I’m not sure how many times we see Hurts throw even 30 passes.

I would sell Smith at a top-25 value based on volume alone.

Dalton Schultz is droppable

The Case: In the Cowboys‘ first game with Michael Gallup back, Schultz saw just two targets. He hasn’t reached 60 yards since Week 6 and he hasn’t scored since Week 4. There are simply too many mouths to feed in Dallas once again, so Schultz is relegated to touchdown-or-bust status. He did have a red zone target in this game, but you see how bad things go when he doesn’t cash in that one opportunity.

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The Verdict: Believe it.

But only if Dan Arnold is available, and he is in half of Fantasy leagues. If you can’t get Arnold, I’m probably holding Schultz. Because, while he is a touchdown-or-bust tight end, he’s also playing the Chiefs this week in a game that should have many touchdown opportunities. 

This position, while it has teased us otherwise, is still a complete wasteland. Arnold and Evan Engram are the only two tight ends who have scored even 10 PPR Fantasy points in their last three games. T.J. Hockenson just gave us a zero. If you can get Arnold, go do it. Otherwise, hope for a TD in a high-scoring game.

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