- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2011

If you’re one of the approximately 3,347,241 fantasy owners who scrambled to their league’s website Sunday night to pick up Panthers QB Cam Newton, don’t get too excited.

I’m not trying to rain on your parade, but most of the knee-jerk fantasy decisions made after Week 1 do not work out as planned.

Newton’s performance — an NFL rookie debut record 422 yards passing and two TDs in a loss to the Cardinals — was not only the most surprising of the opening week, it was one of the more surprising the league has seen in years. The guy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in the preseason, and then he does THAT?!

Newton’s talented, and it can’t hurt to have him on your roster right now (if you’re really ruthless, you’ll try to swing a trade while his stock is sky high), but he’s still a rookie, and sooner rather than later, he’s going to play like it (the Packers this weekend are a bad matchup). He still needs to prove he’s an every-week starter.

Colts’ offense has no upside without Peyton Manning

The previous holder of the record Newton now possesses was Peyton Manning, who watched from the sidelines as the Colts were embarrassed by the Texans.

My advice regarding Newton is an example of not getting carried away based on one game. That’s solid advice in most cases. This year’s Colts are the rare exception.

Without Manning (and he’s not coming back this season), that offense is a fantasy wasteland. Wayne, Collie, Clark, Garcon, Addai. All useless now.

Start Rex Grossman 

If there’s another fantasy lesson to be learned from Newton’s big game, it’s that if you have a quarterback on your roster who faces the Arizona defense, make sure he’s in your lineup. Guess who plays the Cardinals this week? That’s right, I’m suggesting you start Rex Grossman. (As a lifelong Bears fan, those are six words I never thought I’d say, type or even think.)

Grossman is capable of stretches where he’s a confident passer who puts up often good and sometimes great fantasy numbers. But those are inevitably followed by stretches in which that confidence vanishes and he piles one mistake upon another. That’s going to happen. Just not this weekend. He’ll play well for the second straight game.

Joe Flacco is becoming an elite QB

While Newton’s Law makes me hesitant to issue any bold proclamations after one game, I think it’s time to start considering Joe Flacco as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback.

The Ravens signal-caller exorcised a significant demon with three TDs in a blowout win over the rival Steelers. It was arguably his best game as a pro.

Even before Sunday’s redemption (he had been 0-for-6 against the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger as the starter, including two playoff losses), he was undervalued in drafts heading into the season.

Given that he’s increased his TD total from 14 to 21 to 25 since entering the league in 2008, it’s a good bet 2011 will be his breakout season. Unless your roster includes Brady, Rodgers, Rivers, Brees or Vick, Flacco shouldn’t be on your bench any longer.

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