- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2012

They say you should stick with your first instinct (and you’d think I’d have learned that in junior high after the incident of the double dog dare and the oscillating fan), but I went against my better judgment and convinced myself that Cam Newton is a good fantasy quarterback.

He is not.

I filled up plenty of space in this column last year making the case that Newton was a fluke. I said it after his record-setting debut, and I stuck with that instinct for much of the season, a season that turned out to be, statistically, the greatest ever for a rookie quarterback.

By season’s end, I begrudgingly acknowledged that Newton was better than I gave him credit for and his success appeared to be more than smoke and mirrors. But I also said that I wasn’t going to take the chance that he’d come down to Earth this season. I said I’d let someone else take that chance and draft him, even if it meant losing to him twice — again.

Well, what did I do? I went and drafted him in the second round. And I’m experiencing some serious drafter’s remorse right now.

Newton was serviceable the first couple of weeks. He didn’t open with back-to-back 400-yard games like he did last year, but he threw for more than 550 yards and had three total TDs. It didn’t seem like much to worry about, especially with all the top quarterbacks from last year struggling.

But then came Week 3, Newton’s national television debut, against the defending Super Bowl champions. The Giants made him look like the guy I assumed he’d revert to last season, the guy who entered the NFL after only one season as a starter in college, the guy who seemed more concerned with becoming an “icon” than becoming a good football player.

He threw three interceptions, and two of them were Grossmanesque head-shakers. But the most troubling aspect of his performance involved his meaningless touchdown run in the second half. The game had been decided. The Panthers were on their way to starting a promising season 1-2. There was nothing to celebrate. But that didn’t stop Newton from doing his “Superman” pose after crossing the goal line. That’s when I knew I had made a mistake.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one horrified by Newton’s actions in the 36-7 televised blowout. After being benched, he was approached by teammate and veteran WR Steve Smith regarding his lack of maturity. Smith didn’t like the star quarterback pouting on the sideline. Let’s break that down for a moment. When your attitude is being questioned by someone who has assaulted two of his teammates, you might want to think about changing your approach (and hiring a bodyguard).

If Smith’s words took, they didn’t take by the time Newton faced reporters after the game. At one point during the news conference, he tilted his head back, closed his eyes and strained to (sort of) answer questions. He looked, and acted, like a child bothered by the intrusion of others into his world. I’m pretty sure Superman — even on his most frustrating days trying to save the world and make Lois Lane happy — never acted so petulant.

Back to the real world of my fantasy team, I was lucky enough to have Eli Manning fall to me as a second quarterback. He’s my starter from here out. My guess is that the great majority of those who drafted Newton didn’t get so lucky. If you don’t have a good backup, my advice to you is this: 1) Pray there’s a diehard Panthers fan in your league who doesn’t watch TV or read and is willing to trade his/her season away; 2) scramble to the waiver wire and hope that Christian Ponder or Jake Locker is available; 3) stock up on smoke and mirrors; and 4) avoid oscillating fans.

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