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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fantasy football: Cam Newton reaction

Imagine stepping into the cluttered mind of Steve Smith.

The 32-year-old Panthers receiver, once a stud, had all of 46 receptions for 554 yards and two touchdowns last season. There were four reasons for the poor numbers: Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike.

As Ken Lucas will tell you, Smith is not to be messed with. It's a safe assumption Clausen was more than a little terrified during his terrible rookie season of 2010.

Enter Cam Newton. Return to fantasy relevance for Smith.

I think the latter is the biggest development from Newton's huge day Sunday at Arizona. The 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards, two TDs and one interception. He also rushed for 18 yards and a score.

The yards are the most ever for a rookie on opening day.

Newton's huge game undoubtedly will result in many owners rushing to acquire him on the waiver wire this week, since he went undrafted in many formats.

I can't disagree with anyone who wants Newton as a backup, but if you're hoping he will be your starter, you should make such a move with vastly reduced expectations.

Sunday undoubtedly will be Newton's best game of 2011. It occurred against a Cardinals defense that ranked 23rd against the pass last season.

Newton is relevant in fantasy for the first time, but that doesn't make him a No. 1 fantasy QB.

The fact that we can expect him to be decent this season, though, elevates Smith from a lower-level No. 3 receiver in a 12-team league to at least a low-end No. 2.

Sunday, Smith had eight catches for 178 yards and two TDs. The scores were from 77 and 26 yards out.

Consider that last year Smith never had more than 85 yards receiving in a game. He surpassed 50 yards in a contest four times in 14 chances, and he had more than five catches once. He has as many TDs in 2011 as he did in 2010.

You get the point.

Maybe 2010 wasn't a sign of him losing a step.

Maybe it was the fact his QBs were terrible.

And maybe he'll much more closely resemble the player who averaged 88 receptions for 1,288 yards and eight TDs from 2005 to '08 than the one who was so angry on the sideline last year Ken Lucas -- who wasn't even in the NFL in 2010 -- was petrified.

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