Week 1 top performers; Is Cam Newton for real?

Is Cam Newton a fantasy stud? (AP Photo)

I know Week 1 isn't over yet, and there is a distinct possibility that one or more players from tonight's Monday Night Football doubleheader will light up the fantasy scoreboard, but this will be a weekly tradition. Each Monday, I'll recap the weekend's top scorers, and take a look at what the national media is saying about one or more of those players.

This weekend, some of the big players are stalwarts on this list (see: Drew Brees and Ray Rice), while some were surprises (see: Mike Tolbert and Kenny Britt). 

Then there were the others. Those guys at the top of the list. You know, that 1st overall pick who wasn't built to be an NFL passer and his aging wide receiver. Yes, I'm talking about Steve Smith and Cam Newton.

Newton became the first rookie quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in his NFL debut, connecting with Smith for two touchdowns and rushing for another.

So were we all wrong? Is Newton going to be the next big thing? The next Michael Vick? Donovan McNabb?

Lets look at what the national media are saying: 

Nobody is going to confuse the Cardinals' defense with the Baltimore Ravens', but what Newton did -- NFL debut ... on the road ... thinner playbook ... pressure of being the No. 1 overall pick. Blah, blah, blah -- was in the zip code of extraordinary. - Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com

Sunday was the reason Carolina chose Newton with the No. 1 pick in the draft. - Tom Sorensen, The Charlotte Observer 

For Newton, the first pick in the draft, the first day at work was full of positives. He completed 24 of 37 attempts — short passes, long passes, passes across the middle and passes to the sideline ... The only thing Newton did not do was win the game. - Andrew Das, The New York Times

So many wondered if the Panthers were rushing Newton into action too soon, to justify being picked first overall last April. But his 422-yard performance showed that was wrong, as did the words coming out of the Panther locker room. He made the right reads and didn't take off to run at the first sign of pressure. He showed how, in trouble, he could make plays with his arm -- not just his legs. - Peter King, SI.com

Already I’ve seen a fantasy owner put Newton on the trading block to gauge interest, knowing it’s possible that the rookie’s value may never be higher than Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. Dealing Newton is not a bad idea considering his upcoming schedule: vs. Green Bay, vs. Jacksonville, @ Chicago, vs. New Orleans, @ Atlanta. - Pat Leonard, nydailynews.com

While there is a lot of praise here for Newton and what he did on Sunday, I'm still hesitant to buy him as a starter on your fantasy team. I think Pat Leonard did the best job spinning it forward. Just look at his opponents the next few weeks. Not many matchups look as enticing as yesterday's against the Cardinals, who had one of the worst pass defenses last season and traded away Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, their best cornerback, in the offseason.

I still think that Newton is one of the best available options at backup, and a few more weeks and I may become a believer as well.

Here's a look at the rest of the top 10 from this weekend:

1. Cam Newton (QB, CAR) - 29 points - 24/37, 422 passing yards, 2 TDs, INT; 18 rushing yards, TD
2. Steve Smith (WR, CAR) - 29 points - 8 receptions, 178 yards, 2 TDs
3. Drew Brees (QB, NO) - 28 points - 32/49, 419 passing yards, 3 TDs
4. Ray Rice (RB, BAL) - 26 points - 107 rushing yards, TD; 4 receptions, 42 yards, TD
5. Mike Tolbert (RB, SD) - 26 points - 35 rushing yards, TD; 9 receptions, 58 yards, 2 TDs
6. 49ers (D/ST, SF) - 26 points - 17 PA, 2 FUM, INT, 2 TDs
7. LeSean McCoy (RB, PHI) - 25 points - 122 rushing yards, TD; 2 receptions, 15 yards, TD
8. Kenny Britt (WR, TEN) - 25 points - 5 receptions, 136 yards, 2 TDs
9. Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB) - 24 points - 27/35, 312 passing yards, 3 TDs
10. Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, BUF) - 24 points - 17/25, 208 passing yards, 4 TDs

And in case you were wondering...
11. Mike Vick (QB, PHI) - 22 points -
14/32, 187 passing yards, 2 TDs; 98 rushing yards


I'll be back tomorrow. I'll be looking at some injuries and give the updated power rankings for the Fantasy Island Football League.


Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com. You can reach him by e-mail at mmullin@philly.com. Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin