Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Based on the way he finished the 2012 season, a fifth-round, sixth-pick average draft position (ADP) for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is perfectly acceptable, but it's where he's being drafted relative to other quarterbacks that makes him risky.
Fantasy owners are betting that there will be plenty of Clark-Kent-to-Superman celebrations from Newton in 2013 by taking him fourth among all quarterbacks after Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
In the latest mock drafts from fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Newton is going nearly a round ahead of Tom Brady (6-01 ADP) and Matt Ryan (6-02) and more than a round ahead of Matthew Stafford (6-10). He's also being drafted nearly two rounds before Colin Kaepernick (7-04) and more than two rounds ahead of Russell Wilson (7-07).
It's understandable why fantasy owners would take Newton over Ryan, Brady and Stafford. While Newton doesn't quite put up the passing numbers accumulated by those three guys, he more than makes up for it with his rushing numbers, even in leagues where all touchdowns are worth the same number of fantasy points, because rushing yards are significantly more valuable than passing yards.
Newton also improved as a passer in the latter part of the season, throwing for 2,168 yards, 14 touchdowns and four picks in his final nine games. Overall, Newton has averaged 3,960 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns and 14.5 interceptions in his two seasons, so it's not like he's a slouch with his passing production.
However, Kaepernick and Wilson also provide fantasy owners with the rushing element that Ryan, Brady and Stafford lack while possessing similar passing potential to Newton.
In his 10 starts last season (playoffs included), Kaepernick threw for 2,406 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 502 yards and six touchdowns with one lost fumble. That extrapolates to 3,850 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, eight picks, 803 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and two lost fumbles per 16 games.
Wilson, meanwhile, posted 2,460 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, four interceptions, 497 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns and one lost fumble in his last 11 games last year (playoffs included). Those numbers average out to 3,578 yards, 31 passing touchdowns, six interceptions, 723 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns and one lost fumble over 16 games.
Kaepernick and Wilson also have better weapons than Newton. Even with Michael Crabtree's Achilles' tear, Kaepernick has Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, Frank Gore and 2012 first-rounder A.J. Jenkins. Wilson has Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, offseason acquisition Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch. Newton's weapons include Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and an injury-prone and underachieving running back corps.
With all three players likely to provide similar value in 2013, it just isn't a wise strategy to take one two rounds ahead of the others.