Mac Jones Named Patriots Starting QB: Betting & Fantasy Impact As Cam Newton Gets Released
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mac Jones
The New England Patriots have moved on from last season’s starting quarterback Cam Newton and will start rookie first-round pick Mac Jones in Week 1.
According to multiple reports, the Patriots will release Newton which paves the way for the former Alabama signal caller.
The news has a few immediate impacts on the betting market. First, it appears bets at DraftKings for Jones to take the first snap of the season will cash. That number opened at +275 but moved as low as +225 following Newton’s COVID protocol absence.
Before the news, the Patriots were 3-point favorites at home against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. The number was immediately taken off the board. DraftKings re-opened New England as 2.5-point favorites with a total of 44.
The Patriots were still up at +350 to win the AFC East on DraftKings and +3500 to win the Super Bowl.
When the possibility first arose that Jones could start, Action Network NFL expert Sean Koerner said he didn’t make much of an adjustment between Newton and Jones for betting projections.
“If and when Mac Jones starts, he will elevate the value of the RB/WR/TE group given he will throw more and goal-line opportunities will go toward the running backs,” he said regarding Jones’ fantasy football status. “He’s less of a fantasy asset himself (at least as a rookie) as a result.”
In his final preseason game, Jones finished 10-of-14 for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Jones was down to +450 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at PointsBet following the news.
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Newton was the betting favorite to win the job as recently as mid-August. He finished as QB20 for fantasy through 16 weeks due in large part to his dual-threat abilities. I would expect Jones to have QB2 appeal now that the decision is no longer up-in-the-air.
He should be an upgrade from a passing perspective, but his limited athletic prowess offers none of the floor Newton did in terms of rushing. Jones’ ceiling is also lower given the dearth of star weapons on the team, which, even after the team’s uncharacteristically aggressive free agency, still lacks a true No. 1 wideout.
This news should give a moderate boost to the fantasy values of all the Patriots’ pass-catchers by injecting more life into the offense, which was clearly hamstrung by Newton’s lack of arm strength and pocket presence. Jones’ arm strength isn’t necessarily his strength, but is an upgrade from Newton’s and should benefit Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers. Smith is a borderline top-12 tight end, while Henry is a high-end TE2. Agholor and Meyers are both late-round dart throws with slightly more upside with Jones as their QB.
Running backs Damien Harris may see fewer touches — but more red zone opportunities — in a Jones-led offense and remains a high-end RB3/flex play. James White’s value increases with more targets to go around and could have flex appeal in PPR formats.