FanPost

Can Cam Newton Become the NFL's No. 1 QB in 2013?

Streeter Lecka

Note: All data comes from the RotoViz QB Similarity Score app and this data is further explored in a post I wrote over at Rotoviz, Man of Steel - Cam Newton.

Cam Newton’s 2012 season provides a very interesting case study on the plight of the quarterback position in fantasy football, but extrapolated in the larger context of the NFL as a whole. His numbers showed a quarterback who slightly regressed, despite a stellar second half of the season.

Using the RotoViz QB Similarity Score app, I went back and generated similarity scores for Newton to put his season into a historical perspective. This was done in order to see what players of similar production and skillset did in the year after they posted comparable numbers to Newton.

NAME SEAS GMS ATTS COMPS CMPPCT PYDS PTDS INTS pFPOP rATTS rYDS rTDS
Cam Newton 2011 16 32.31 19.38 0.60 253.00 1.31 1.06 0.03 7.81 44.06 0.88
Michael Vick 2011 13 32.54 19.46 0.60 253.69 1.38 1.08 -0.00 5.69 45.23 0.08
Donovan McNabb 2000 16 35.56 20.62 0.58 210.25 1.31 0.81 -0.03 5.44 39.00 0.38
Michael Vick 2002 15 28.13 15.40 0.55 193.47 1.07 0.53 0.00 7.47 51.73 0.53
Donovan McNabb 2002 10 36.10 21.10 0.58 228.80 1.70 0.60 -0.04 6.30 45.90 0.60
Rich Gannon 2000 16 29.69 17.75 0.60 214.00 1.75 0.69 0.11 5.56 31.94 0.25
Kordell Stewart 2001 16 27.69 16.62 0.60 193.50 0.88 0.69 -0.00 6.00 32.88 0.31
Steve McNair 2001 15 28.73 17.60 0.61 223.33 1.40 0.80 0.10 5.00 26.60 0.33
Michael Vick 2005 15 25.80 14.27 0.55 160.80 1.00 0.87 -0.06 6.73 39.33 0.40
Michael Vick 2010 12 31.08 19.42 0.62 251.17 1.75 0.50 0.07 8.08 56.33 0.75
Daunte Culpepper 2002 16 34.50 20.81 0.60 238.50 1.12 1.44 -0.09 6.56 37.19 0.62
Daunte Culpepper 2001 11 33.27 21.36 0.64 237.00 1.27 1.18 0.03 6.36 36.27 0.45
Steve McNair 2002 16 30.75 18.81 0.61 211.44 1.38 0.94 0.00 5.00 26.31 0.19
Donovan McNabb 2001 15 32.80 18.93 0.58 212.07 1.67 0.80 -0.00 5.33 30.07 0.13
Tyler Thigpen 2008 14 29.93 16.43 0.55 185.43 1.29 0.86 -0.03 4.36 26.21 0.21
Donovan McNabb 2003 16 29.88 17.19 0.58 200.81 1.00 0.69 -0.04 4.38 22.12 0.19
Daunte Culpepper 2003 14 32.50 21.07 0.65 245.57 1.79 0.79 0.10 5.21 30.14 0.29
Jeff Garcia 2003 13 30.15 17.31 0.57 207.69 1.38 1.00 0.01 4.15 24.31 0.62
David Carr 2004 16 29.06 17.75 0.61 218.69 1.00 0.88 0.02 4.44 18.38 0.00
Daunte Culpepper 2000 16 29.62 18.56 0.63 244.69 2.06 1.00 0.20 5.62 28.00 0.44

As you can seen, Newton's comps are a mixed bag of Hall of Fame talent, career journeymen, and borderline practice squad bodies. These QBs all had statistically similar seasons to Newton (minus Tyler Thigpen, who made it onto this list based on his comparable size and build). Based on these comps, we can reasonably expect Newton to put up about 17 fantasy points per game in 2013 - which would be roughly Aaron Rodgers' 2012 season.

While that is certainly an optimistic projection, it’s a lot more beneficial to generate a range of outcomes for Newton based on his comps. One simple way to come up with a quick range of outcomes for a skewed data set is to use quartiles, where the upper quartile represents a "ceiling" season for Newton, the lower quartile represents a "floor" season and the median is between the two. If your goal at QB is to target guys with a high ceiling, looking at the range of outcomes is more helpful than just looking at the mean of Newton’s historical comparable receivers.

Here is how Newton's range looks:

- FPG Proj (4 for PTDs) FPG Proj (6 for PTDs)
Low 13.9 15.8
Median 16.9 20.3
High 19.3 22.4

For comparisons sake, here's Aaron Rodgers' sim. score range:

- FPG Proj (4 for PTDs) FPG Proj (6 for PTDs)
Low 17.1 20.3
Median 18.3 22
High 19.8 23.8

So what do you think? Does Cam Newton have a legitimate shot at finishing as the No. 1 QB this year?

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