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Dynasty Startup ADP Arbitrage - Kyler Murray or Cam Newton?

There's been a lot of hype behind Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Playing in an Air Raid-style offense for the Cardinals should allow Murray to be a high-volume passer fairly quickly, a guy who can be a great passer moving forward.

There's also been a lot of not-hype for Cam Newton, who missed a couple of games last year but still threw for 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing the highest percentage of his passes ever. Yes, his rushing production wasn't up to the level it's been at in the past, but Newton's still a top quarterback, which makes it odd that his dynasty rankings have been all over the place. We have him ninth in our dynasty rankings. CBS has him sixth. But in DLF's dynasty mock data, Newton is currently the 12th quarterback off the board, behind Murray.

So, let's tackle this question: Given their similar ADPs, which quarterback is worth choosing in dynasty drafts?

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The Case for Kyler Murray

In dynasty leagues, we like things that are shiny and new, and there's nothing newer and shinier than Kyler Murray right now. He's so exciting that the Cardinals traded away last year's first-round pick, Josh Rosen, just so they could take a quarterback in the first round for the second year in a row.

As the NFL trends more and more towards being a league where spread offenses are the norm, and the longstanding idea that they were only effective at the college level becomes a piece of outdated wisdom, quarterbacks like Murray -- fast, accurate, but very undersized -- will be able to find more and more success. Running the offense out of the shotgun will negate the main disadvantage that the vertically challenged Murray would face by being under center. Murray's size was a key talking point before the draft, but new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to design an offense that does the most it possibly can to make his size not an issue.

In Murray's one year starting at Oklahoma, the Heisman winner threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns while completing 69 percent of his pass attempts and tossing just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns. Murray was dynamic as both a passer and a rusher.

Murray's also on a team that is actively working to build him a strong supporting cast. Running back David Johnson is one of the NFL's most exciting backs. Veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald is around for one more year to help Murray's transition to the NFL, but the team's got three intriguing young guys -- Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and Hakeem Butler -- waiting in the wings. Kirk showed a lot of promise as a rookie, while Isabella fits the mold of the modern NFL slot guy to a tee, and Butler has the physical build to be a deep ball threat. Arizona has work to do with their offensive line still, but everything about their offseason felt like preparation for Murray's arrival. That level of dedication matters, because quarterbacks succeed early when they're put in strong positions to succeed.


The Case for Cam Newton

Let's get the big negative on Newton out of the way early here. He's 30, and while he's only missed five games over the course of his eight-year career, he's played through a lot of injuries, and there are plenty of people who are concerned that those injuries are going to add up. The Panthers drafted West Virginia quarterback Will Grier this year, fuelling speculation that they might be preparing for a post-Newton future.

I, however, do not buy that. Grier is Newton insurance, not a Newton replacement. Cam Newton can do some incredible things with the ball in his hands and the Panthers need to think of him as their long term starter. So do you, dynasty owners.

Like with Murray, Newton's a dynamic NFL runner, though he's more of a power guy than Murray is. Newton can bully defenses when he needs to, and he's got a strong arm that allows him to throw the ball all over the field. His accuracy improved last year, and if that continues, the biggest knock on his game is out of the way.

Newton's also got a top running back who can make plays as a receiver out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is arguably more valuable than David Johnson moving forward from both a real life and fantasy perspective. But where Newton's outlook falters some is in his other receiving weapons.

The Panthers haven't really given Newton good receivers over the past few seasons. Kelvin Benjamin busted out of town. Devin Funchess had some good production, but was ultimately unable to sustain it and is now a Colt. Second-year receiver D.J. Moore is the best Carolina has right now, but while he's an incredibly quick player who's a ton of fun when he's making big plays, he was only 60th among wide receivers in air yards last year; Moore's not a downfield weapon, which limits his ability to be a true number-one receiver in the NFL. Maybe Curtis Samuel can fill that role, as he's also incredibly speedy, or maybe Torrey Smith still has something left, but overall, it's hard to see who Newton has who can help him rack up the big receiving yardage totals that a fantasy quarterback needs.

Newton's biggest selling point is his consistent production. Newton has played in 16 games in five of his NFL seasons, and in those five seasons, his worst fantasy finish was as the QB4. A healthy Newton's ceiling is higher than pretty much any quarterback. It's higher than Murray for at least the next few years. Full strength Cam Newton is a force, but somehow people seem to forget that. Yes, injuries will become more of an issue as he ages, but if he's starting an NFL game, there's a pretty good chance he's giving you very strong fantasy production in that game.


The Verdict

While I usually tend to value youth in dynasty leagues, I'm leaning towards Cam Newton at this point because of his track record and the fact that quarterbacks 1) tend to be able to sustain their production over a longer period of time than non-quarterbacks and 2) because rookie quarterbacks -- especially undersized ones -- are still a major risk because of the bust rate of the position.

Yes, Murray looks like the real deal, but Newton is the real deal, and if I'm looking for the best player to help me win now and moving forward in my dynasty league, Newton's a player that I can trust in that regard. I don't yet know if I can trust Murray. He only had one year of college production to entice us with, so we don't know if that production is sustainable, especially when you factor in that he struggled at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma. For now, go with Newton.

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