The Carolina Panthers made it official Tuesday: Cam Newton will end his second consecutive season on injured reserve. It's a tough blow for Newton, who's played just 16 games between the 2018 and 2019 NFL seasons. Newton finished his season on an eight-game losing streak, while Kyle Allen and company continue to find ways to win in his absence.
It's been the Allen show since Newton was diagnosed with the Lisfranc injury back in September, and since then, the team has gone 5-1. Allen hasn't been fantasy relevant himself since his debut as a starter, ranking as the QB29 since Week 4, but he has managed to keep wide receivers, Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore, afloat. Each has ranked as a top-25 wide receiver with Allen under center and should continue to be fringe WR2/WR3 plays.
If there's one takeaway with Allen under center, it's that we can expect the team to feed the ball to Christian McCaffrey as much as he can handle. McCaffrey is currently on pace for 414 touches and has yet to finish a game without a score. McCaffrey remains the RB1 by a 33.7 point margin in half-PPR formats, despite already having his bye. Barring injury, it would be shocking if he didn't finish as the top running back in 2019.
As for Newton's future in Carolina, ESPN's David Newton speculates that Newton may have played his last down for the Panthers. Since being drafted in 2011, Newton has been the face of the franchise. After the many hits he's taken, however, his health appears to have limited his ability to make plays. Mobility and toughness have been hallmarks of his time in Carolina, and it looks as though those wells (for now) are run dry. Newton has looked like a mere fraction of his former 2015-MVP-self since Week 10 in 2018, and the Panthers can save $19.1 million by moving on in 2020.
Minshew Back to the Bench
The Panthers aren't the only coaching staff facing a tough quarterback decision this week. Doug Marrone officially announced Tuesday that QB Nick Foles will start Week 11 after the Jaguars bye. With that, sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew will return to the bench.
Despite Foles' mega-deal signed in the off-season (including $50.125 million in guarantees), the move does not come without some controversy. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1 after just 11 offensive snaps, at which point he had managed five completions for 75 yards and a touchdown to sophomore WR D.J. Chark.
In Minshew's eight-game stint as a starter, the Jaguars went 4-4. He'd managed over 2,000 passing yards and a touchdown to interception ratio of 3.6. He's been productive for fantasy as well, ranking as the QB12 in Weeks 2-9. He hasn't been flawless, however. Ball security has been a work in progress, as Minshew racked up 11 fumbles in his time under center.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Minshew's tenure was the emergence of Chark, as Chark has led the Jaguars in targets, receptions, air yards and yards after the catch. It's been the breakout of the year with Minshew, and with Foles under center, we should expect similar involvement. Of note, Chark was the only wide receiver to see more than one target from Foles, and caught his only touchdown for 35 yards. RB Leonard Fournette should also continue to produce at a high level, as Foles highlighted his excitement to involve the young (and healthy) running back in the passing game.
One name to watch? WR Dede Westbrook. Westbrook was much-hyped heading into the 2019 NFL season, but fell to second fiddle with the emergence of Chark. However, with Foles under center in Week 3 of the 2019 preseason, Westbrook saw seven of his eight targets, managing 4 receptions for 29 yards and a score on limited snaps. Westbrook is currently available in approximately 35% of ESPN leagues, and given the early hype on the rapport between this QB/WR duo, he should be rostered.
Given the hype surrounding Minshew and his surprisingly sound performance as a sixth-round rookie, it's possible that Foles has a relatively short leash moving forward in 2019. Minshew's electric personality and toughness quickly won over fans of this NFL franchise, so it will certainly be a storyline to monitor.
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Quarterback and Running Back Slants
After exiting Sunday's game with an MCL injury, Jacoby Brissett says he is feeling "significantly better" though he remains questionable for Week 10. It would be surprising to see the Colts rush him back against the Dolphins, whose defense can't hold and who continue to #TankForTua. If he's unable to go, Brian Hoyer will get the start, who threw for 168 yards, three touchdowns and an interception Sunday against the Steelers. ... RB Josh Jacobs was upgraded to a full participant in Tuesday's practice. Jacobs has been managing a shoulder injury sustained against the Packers but is presumably healthy and ready to go after seeing 28 rushing attempts Sunday versus the Lions. Jacobs has had more than 120 rushing yards in three of his last four outings and is a must start in every format. ... Jets coach Adam Gase says that Le'Veon Bell won't practice Wednesday after undergoing an MRI on his knee Monday. The MRI reportedly came back clean, but it appears the Jets will proceed with caution through the week. Bilal Powell was the only other running back to take snaps at the position on Sunday, but it's hard to see the upside plugging in a back in an offense that's struggled to get Bell going. Incidentally (or perhaps not), the Jets promoted RB Josh Adams from the practice squad. Gase denies that the move means anything for Bell's availability in Week 10, stating that the move was to block another team from signing Adams. Adams most recently lead the Eagles in rushing in 2018. ... Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says that James Conner will be limited to start the week. Conner continues to deal with a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined Week 9 versus the Colts. In his absence, Jaylen Samuels saw 21 total touches, posting just 10 yards on the ground while leading the team with 73 receiving yards. In that contest, RB Trey Edmunds also saw 13 carries for 73 yards. He certainly looked like the more explosive back on the ground, taking his first carry for 45 yards.
Wide Receiver and Tight End Slants
The Eagles placed WR DeSean Jackson on injured reserve after aggravating his abdomen strain early in Sunday's contest versus Chicago. He underwent core muscle surgery Tuesday. It's a tough start to Jackson's tenure in Philadelphia after his hot start of 8/154/2. Still, he's signed through 2021, so should get another crack at things before heading to free agency. In what is likely a corresponding depth move, WR Jordan Matthews has returned to Philadelphia for a physical. Matthews was most recently a non-factor with the 49ers, but it would make sense to bring in some extra help with someone familiar with the Eagles' scheme. ... NFL.com's Tom Pelissero reports that Adam Thielen is likely to miss the Vikings' Week 10 matchup versus the Cowboys. He played just seven snaps before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. The original injury occurred versus the Detroit Lions and held him out of Week 8. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings hold him out until after their Week 12 bye. WR Olabisi Johnson is the biggest beneficiary of Thielen's absence, but he's a boom/bust WR4 at best. He's posted 7/71/2 in Thielen's three-game absence. Evan Engram is reportedly dealing with a sore foot after Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. He's on a short week, facing the New York Jets in Week 10, and Rhett Ellison would likely be the primary beneficiary should be unable to suit up. In his Week 6 absence, Ellison saw a season-high seven targets - he just hasn't been able to do much with them.