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PFN Table for 6: Cam Newton, Justin Herbert, AJ Dillon, and others

Fantasy 365
Written by PFN Fantasy Director BJ Rudell, the PFN Table for 6 fantasy newsletter comes to you every Sunday and Tuesday at 6 AM ET with exclusive content and advice you won’t find anywhere else. 

Welcome back to Table for 6: Pro Football Network’s rundown of six players we are closely tracking today. Six players whose values could pop or plummet before the sun goes down. Six players who could make or break your fantasy team if you manage your roster to maximize the probabilities.
With Week 11 approaching, here are six players I’m watching intently.
Guest of Honor
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
As many longtime readers of my old blog know, I have a soft spot for Newton in the fantasy world. Few quarterbacks have displayed his level of greatness in the past ten years. He was a top-4 fantasy QB in four of his first five seasons, beginning in his rookie campaign in 2011, culminating in one of the all-time-greatest QB fantasy performances in 2015: a 3,837-35-10 passing line with 636 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs.
In 2016, at only 27 years old, he broke the all-time NFL record for most QB rushing touchdowns. 
The following year he was the No. 2 fantasy QB. The year after that, he finished at No. 8 in QB fantasy points per game – the seventh time in eight NFL seasons that he finished in the top 9.
But injuries have derailed his career: rotator cuff surgery in 2017, then another shoulder surgery two years later. A Lisfranc fracture in his foot set him back later in 2019, and the following March, the Panthers released him.
I’ve long viewed Newton as a QB1-in-waiting. If the right opportunity came along, he could shine. The Patriots were not the answer last season. For context, of the top four New England wideouts, one was frequently injured and is retired, two others have a combined 9 catches for 106 yards this season as deep backups, and the fourth is WR3/4 Jakobi Meyers. Of his three tight ends, none are still in the league.
And yet Newton averaged slightly more fantasy points per game than Joe Burrow and only 0.1 points less than Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Newton did more with less than perhaps any other quarterback has in decades. It doesn’t show up in the raw numbers. But the evidence is clear. 
Now, the QB-desperate Panthers have brought him back on a one-year “prove-it” deal. 
He’ll have the pass-friendly Christian McCaffrey at his disposal, as well as the (recently) underutilized D.J. Moore and the inexplicably underperforming (until two days ago) Robby Anderson. This is a more talented offense than what he had in New England. And as we saw in his first few snaps on Sunday, he can be great again, particularly if his mobility hasn’t suffered from the long layoff.
We should soon know whether he has what it takes to help fantasy managers in need of a QB1.
(Table for 6 continues below)
PFN Fantasy Podcast
NFL Week 11 Fantasy Injury Report: Aaron Jones, Cordarrelle Patterson, and more
(Table for 6 continued from above)
Other Guests
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
When is a QB1 a QB1? For the Chargers’ second-year franchise quarterback, the answer is complicated. 
Half of his fantasy points (94.9) came in three of his nine games. In his other six contests, he averaged 16.1 points. For context, Daniel Jones is averaging 16.1 points. While I’m not saying Herbert is like Jones, it has been clear to fantasy managers that Herbert has not been close to the consistent QB1 fantasy managers had hoped for, despite his overall QB7 ranking. 
Overall, there’s nothing dramatically different compared to last year’s breakout campaign. He’s averaging 0.9 fewer fantasy points. His completion percentage is 1.2% lower. Interceptions are up. TDs are ever-so-slightly down. 
Herbert’s fortunes could go either way the rest of this season. Sunday’s matchup against the Steelers might help us project which way.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
Longtime readers of my old blog and my columns on PFN know my views about handcuff RBs. They are lottery tickets. But not just any lottery tickets. 
Nearly every season, a dozen or more handcuffs earn at least one start. Many of them are RB2s are better in those starts. And some become weekly starters. Most of these handcuffs can be drafted in later rounds or picked up on waivers mid-season. 
Aaron Jones’s knee injury could open the door for Dillon to be a weekly RB1. In my league, I drafted Dillon, Tony Pollard, and Alexander Mattison. All I needed was a spot-start here and there to backfill for the normal injuries and bye weeks that most of us deal with. Mattison and Pollard have outproduced their preseason value. 
Dillon’s potential ascension is yet another reminder that elite RB handcuffs can help managers win championships
D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Fantasy managers who invested heavily in Nick Chubb and/or Kareem Hunt this summer have dealt with injuries that have hampered their value. However, they play in one of the most run-friendly offenses in a generation or more. 
Both have produced low-end RB1 numbers based on fantasy points per game. So patience has been key. 
“When they return, I’ll be fine.” 
Except now managers have a D’Ernest Johnson problem. The 25-year-old went undrafted out of the University of South Florida and has bounced between the NFL and the Alliance of American Football. Yet he has shined in two starts, and his astounding 7 receptions Sunday are indicative of his every-down-back abilities.
 It’s hard to imagine Chubb and Hunt losing touches when they return. But it’s also hard to imagine Johnson returning to the bench. Fantasy-wise, there is a risk that none of them will be top-16 RBs when Chubb and Hunt return.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
The adage usually holds true: a receiver is only as good as his quarterback. There are exceptions, of course. 
But in fantasy, we strive to capitalize on great QB-receiver connections: Rodgers-to-Adams; Mahomes-to-Hill/Kelce; Brady-to-Evans/Godwin/Brown. I don’t think many managers this summer were excited about the Darnold-Moore connection. 
But Carolina’s No. 1 receiver was a borderline WR2/3 last year catching balls from Teddy Bridgewater. The season before, he was a consistent WR2 despite mostly having Kyle Allen as his quarterback. 
This year Moore is once again a WR2, but only because of his incredible opening month. In his last six games, he’s been roughly a WR5, as the Panthers’ passing attack has come undone with Sam Darnold at the helm, followed by P.J. Walker. Can Moore revive his season with Cam Newton back at QB? 
It’s a huge question for those who thought they had a season-long WR1 through Week 4. I would bet on him.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
A 2018 fourth-round pick with 13 career receptions in his first two seasons, Schultz assumed the No. 1 tight end job in 2020 and became a back-end TE1. 
In his first six games this year, he was more than 50% better than last year’s per-game numbers, averaging 14.2 fantasy points and ascending to near-elite status. But three of his four worst games this season have come in the previous three weeks, and Michael Gallup’s return has added another hurdle for a talented tight end who’s already competing for touches alongside three exceptional talents – Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper – as well as multiple complementary talents.
 Next week, I’m watching this to see if Schultz gets back on track or if averaging 2-3 receptions per game is the new norm.
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