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Three and Out: Julio Jones, TE Scoring and Why I won’t draft Cam Newton

camnewton

Three and Out is a weekly column here at RotoViz featuring some quick hitting fantasy football food for thought. Every week I will cover three topics featuring facts, stats, projections, player profiles, ADP updates, draft strategies, tips and the latest news from around the fantasy football world. Think of this as a 5-Hour Energy for your fantasy brain.

FIRST DOWN

22.2 ppg – Julio Jones‘ averages through 5 games in PPR leagues. That’s higher than Josh Gordon, who averaged 21.8 ppg throughout his sensational season last year. With Gordon, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas all coming off stellar seasons, you may be able to get a small injury discount next year. A quick look at the RotoViz WR Sim Score App shows projections of  17 ppg, 21.3 ppg and 23.5 ppg as the low, middle and high outcomes for Jones next year. Another point of emphasis is that Roddy White is 32 years old with three straight years of declining fantasy scoring. He was even overshadowed by Harry Douglas last year. Also gone is Hall Of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. With more targets to go around and deteriorating assets around him, I would expect Matt Ryan to look Jones’ way even more next year. Positive news is coming out of Atlanta saying that Jones is on schedule to be ready for the season opener and is already participating in team training on a limited basis. Here is a look at Jones’ comps for next season.

jones

 

SECOND DOWN

TE Scoring is up 26% – As running back scoring is pointing south, the tight end position is soaring. Many people will point to Gronk and Graham as the reason, but TE1-TE24 all out-produced their 10 year scoring averages last year. These stats are the reason why many owners wait until the later rounds to add a tight end to their rosters, but a deeper look may change that. When standardizing scoring across the positions, owning the RB1 still holds the most overall point scoring value. However when looking at 10 year scoring averages, the point differential of owning the TE1 versus the TE2 has given owners the higher scoring advantage. On average the top TE scores 16% more points than the next highest scorer at the position. RB1 has the next highest advantage at 13% followed by WR at 9.7% then QB at 9.2%.

Compounding the problem with running backs is the year-to-year turnover you have at the top of the rankings. Tight End rankings are much less volatile year-to-year and the chances of the top scoring TE repeating the following year is much higher. So just how valuable was Jimmy Graham last year? Well he scored 24% higher than the 10 year TE1 scoring average and 35% more points than the next highest scoring TE. In fact when it came to scoring consistency, Graham scored 10 or more points in 12 of 15 games last year…3 more than Calvin Johnson and 1 more than A.J. Green. In a game where point differential and scoring consistency are key, Jimmy Graham may be the most valuable fantasy commodity in the game.

THIRD DOWN

3rd, 4th and 3rd – Those are Cam Newton’s finishes in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks since he entered the league. As a rookie Cam burst onto the scene with 4051 yards passing, 706 yards rushing and 35 tds. Superman indeed would be jealous of number like those. Cam even led a few of my teams to championships that year. Well that was then and this is now. While I think Cam has gotten better as a real life signal caller, he has gotten worse as a fake football quarterback. Thinking you are getting a top-5 QB is the “Scam” that is Cam Newton. Cam Newton has regressed each year he has been in the league scoring 373, 323 and 298 points. If this were an SAT question asking you what the next number in the sequence is, the answer would not be a higher number.  In fact Cam finished as a top-12 QB on only 6 occasions last year. A look at the graph below shows that Cam under-performed in 10 weeks versus the point per game averages of the defenses he faced.

 

Screenshot_2014-04-24-13-18-49

 

Only 5 times did he score above the average points allowed against the teams he faced. He was only a top-12 QB in six weeks. That type of week-to-week guessing will drive an owner mad. Take away his top four WRs, his starting LT and add in an ankle injury and there is even more cause for concern. I think Cam will be asked to do more this year with even less than what he has had in years past. The defenses in the NFC South are also improving…most notably the Saints. While the Panthers Defense is good enough to keep games in striking range, that’s not good for those hoping for shoot outs. Even with the additions of Cotchery and Avant, along with a possible draft pick, I see Carolina likely leaning on their running game more than ever this year. If declining scoring, injuries, a below par WR group, a new LT and history of week-to-week scoring volatility aren’t enough to make you shy away from Cam this season, then I don’t know what will. The better bet is to invest in the one constant in the Panthers passing game…Greg Olsen.

FOURTH DOWN

Will Cam Newton finish as a top-5 scoring fantasy QB next year? I say NO…maybe not even top-10. If you think Cam will finish top 5, let me know why in the comments section below or hit me up on twitter @ScottSmith610. How far would Cam have to slide in the draft for you to grab him?

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