Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been a bit of a roller coaster through the season. His inconsistency has likely led to his owners either putting a hurting on their opponents or catching some losses, thus likely putting them near .500. Not every quarterback is Peyton Manning, you guys.
Looking at last year, there's a lot to be encouraged about with Newton. In the last eight weeks of the season, he posted 17 total touchdowns compared to just 10 in the first eight games and his interceptions were cut in half. That translated to a passer rating of 94.2, a large improvement from a pedestrian 77.7 in the first eight weeks of the 2012 season.
He's also heating up again. In his last two games, he's completed 76.9 percent of his passes against the Vikings in Week 6 and an absurd 88.2 percent vs. the Rams last week, leading to passer ratings of 143.4 and 136.3, respectively. Despite the big pure-passing numbers in between the endzones, it hasn't quite translated to production for fantasy owners with just five total TDs.
OK, so Newton's putting in work, but he's gone up against two sub-par defenses. This week, he'll get a reeling D in Tampa Bay. Despite looking good on paper, they're ranked 23rd in passer rating allowed, so Lee Flowers would definitely call them paper champions. They're also coming in cold, giving up back-to-back 31-point games to the Eagles and Falcons. Their zone isn't quite working like it should.
Newton is coming on strong, and even with the the short week, he should be able to turn in a nice line. He should be viewed as a top-five, must-start quarterback. He also could be viewed as a buy-low, since his improvements on the field haven't yielded positive results for fantasy owners ... yet.