More so than ever, the NFL is a quarterback driven league. Need proof? One needs to look no further than the plethora of young gunslingers putting up huge numbers through the first two weeks of the 2011 season.
If you're looking at statistical categories today, you might be surprised by two names you'll find in or around the top 15 of most NFL passing leaders: Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton, who have looked like All-Pros thus far.
Yes, the so-called china doll and the rookie who wouldn't excel as a QB in the NFL, have been on fire.
Which poses the question: If you, the fantasy football guru who could manage your favorite team at least as well as its current owner (that's what you've told your friends countless times anyway) were building a roster from scratch today, who would you rather have? Stafford or Newton?
According to NFL.com, Newton ranks second in passing yards, totaling 854, while Stafford comes in eighth with 599 yards. Passing touchdowns? Stafford is tied for first with seven TDs through the air, and Newton is tied for 14th with three scores in the passing game.
Is quarterback rating your telling stat? Stafford is the fourth ranked quarterback (behind only Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees—how's that for good company). Newton falls a little lower on this list coming in 16th with an 89.1 ranking.
Keep in mind that Cam Newton is a rookie, with just two games under his belt. He's only going to get better.
Stafford has his Lions sitting pretty at 2-0, with a big division game at Minnesota looming. On the other end, Newton's Carolina team is 0-2, but they've been a competitive 0-2; both Panthers losses having been by seven points.
This past Sunday the Newton-led Panthers played the Super Bowl defending champion Green Bay Packers, at one point actually leading 13-0!
Newton and Stafford each have cannons for arms. As Stafford displayed Sunday at Ford Field, he can make throws that quarterbacks the likes of Matt Cassel simply cannot make (nor should attempt to make).
His first TD connection with all-world WR Calvin Johnson, as well as his 36-yard bullet to Tony Scheffler were both balls fit into tight spaces that not even, well, anyone could have thrown better.
Simultaneously, Newton was hitting Steve Smith on a 62-yard strike against the Packers that made all Cam doubters put down their hot wings, and with a mouth full of chicken mumble "maybe this kid is a quarterback."
Currently, Stafford has a more talented surrounding cast, but remember, I'm asking you who you would rather build a team around. Stafford probably is the smarter quarterback of the two.
Although that's a hard argument to make considering Newton is a rookie, and—despite not playing a full season to date—Stafford is a third-year signal caller.
Newton is undoubtedly better at making plays with his legs. Stafford clearly has earned the respect of his teammates more so than Newton. No one in the Detroit locker room has forgotten No. 9's gutsy performance against Cleveland his rookie season.
The days of the Lions and Panthers being pushovers are over. Both predators of the jungle are on their way to becoming predators of the gridiron, with their starting quarterbacks feasting on opposing defenses.
Who would you rather build a team around? Stafford or Newton? With two weeks of the 2011 season in the books, there doesn't appear to be a wrong answer to that question.
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