Don't forget about Cam Newton heading into 2013

      January 21, 2013 @ 17:28:12 PDT

Cam Newton's 2012 fantasy football season was probably deemed a disaster by most of his owners, which is why I'm keeping him high on my radar heading into next year's drafts. Not many probably had the faith to ride Newton down the stretch and if they did, they were probably successful.

Regardless, I don't expect many to be jumping at the chance to draft Newton next year, and the spot at which he's likely to come off most draft boards will yield plenty of value. I'm fully ready to let others reach for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III - yes, even with a twice surgically repaired ACL.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton
Newton will be passed over

Newton's sophomore effort - probably considered a slump by many - wasn't all negative when you look at the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately for those who drafted him with a high pick, the first half of the season stunk for No. 1 and his poor showings early in the year put many teams behind the eight ball for good.

The first eight games of the season saw Newton throw for only six touchdowns while he threw eight interceptions. He managed to run in four scores, but he eclipsed 300 yards passing just twice.

The second half proved much more productive; he tossed 13 TD passes and had only four picks over the final eight games as he settled in. He also broke a team record with a stretch of 176 straight passes without an interception.

Of much importance is the fact that Newton's second season in the NFL threw plenty of adversity his way. His team wasn't winning and he wasn't producing the type of numbers that he was used to throughout his collegiate and amateur career. He certainly didn't handle it very well, initially.

However, once the reality set in that Carolina was still in the process of finding their identity, Newton put his moping aside and got down to business in the second half. Along with a power running game thanks to a three-headed monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert and a solid tight end in Greg Olsen and big-play threat receiver Steve Smith, Newton will continue to have plenty of weapons around him to set him up for success.

Ron Rivera will remain as the head coach, and that has to be considered a positive development in Carolina. Moving on so quickly from him may have been disastrous in Newton's development, if not for the direction of the entire team.

Rob Chudzinski, the offensive coordinator the last two seasons, took the head coaching job in Cleveland. Taking his place will be quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, who worked closely with Newton as the quarterbacks coach. The Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person writes how this will also positively affect Newton heading into his third season.

Shula won't have an identical offense to what Chudzinski ran, but that won't matter. All that matters is that Newton should be comfortable with Shula at this point, and keeping Newton comfortable is of utmost importance.

I like the way things are setting up for Newton and the Panthers in 2013, and I'll be sure to target him as a fairly less expensive QB option, especially when the price for QBs is rising as the league has become heavily dependent on the passing game.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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