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At the beginning of the football season, I wondered if Robert Griffin III could be the next Cam Newton - a talented, mobile rookie QB sensation. I mentioned last week that RG3 was about to begin a three-week crucible that could give us a better idea of his fantasy value and consistency.
Though the Redskins lost the first of those games to the NY Giants on Sunday, RG3 came through his first big test against a dominant defensive line pretty well, hitting 20 of 28 throws for 258 yards passing, 2 TD and 1 INTs, while rushing for 89 yards with one lost fumble. It doesn't sound like that great of a game, but was worth about 29 points in standard Yahoo! fantasy football leagues.
It was the kind of performance that reminded one exactly of Cam Newton. Too bad Cam Newton no longer reminds us of Cam Newton.
The peak of Newton's rapidly declining sophomore season came in Week 1, when he threw for more than 300 yards. Since then, amid perceptions of immature behavior, he hasn't done much at all, barely saved from below-average fantasy QB production by his ability to earn at least four or five fantasy points for rushing yards even on a bad day.
Week 7 featured one of his better outputs this year, with 233 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 64 yards rushing and one lost fumble - overall worth 10 fewer fantasy points than RG3's day.
And this week, he faces the Bears defense, No. 1 in fantasy points and in our hearts.
Everything about this Week 8 match-up has more disaster written all over it for Newton owners. It's true that Newton threw for 374 yards against the Bears last year, but this isn't the same Newton. The possibly saving grace will be if he can escape sacks and out-run Chicago's senior citizen linebackers (which of course I don't really want to see him do).
If Newton somehow does have a good week against the Bears, it might be a very good time to trade him. Carolina just fired its GM, and its season is basically already lost. Whether or not this is a completely lost year for Newton fantasy-wise remains to be seen. He really only has two positive match-ups left - against Tampa in Week 10 and Kansas City in Week 13, and his interest seems to be waning along with his value as a double threat.
If he does still have one or two strong fantasy performances left in him this season, it probably won't be enough to keep him ranked as a top 5 QB - or even a top 7-8 QB - when the 2013 season rolls around.
That's a long way off, though. Maybe if Newton gets it together, he can be the next RG3.
* SI.com reminds us about Jacksonville running back Rashad Jennings, who was supposed to be a fantasy sleeper draft pick back when Maurice Jones-Drew was holding out, and now will get at least a few starts with MJD out with an injury.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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