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Sam Darnold - Fantasy Points Outlook

Basic Stats Basic Stats

Sam Darnold
CAR

QB CAR

#24 Quarterback

318 Projected Points

ADP: Not Available
Bye: 13
Experience: 3 Yr(s)
Age: 24
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 221
40 Time: 4.85

Weekly Outlook

Week 21 Projections

This player does not have a weekly prediction

Rest Of Way Outlook

Week 8
If Darnold had sustained his concussion before the 4th quarter of Sunday’s win over the Falcons, we might have an explanation for the way he’s been playing the past month. As it is, we just have 4 straight games now of basically unusable fantasy production.

Week 8 found Darnold throwing for just 129 yards -- with no TDs or INTs -- against a Falcons defense that ranks 29th in Football Outsiders DVOA against the pass (and 30th in overall DVOA). He did run for 66 yards, just 2 games after rushing for 48 against Minnesota. In between, though, Darnold played so poorly against the Giants that he got pulled for P.J. Walker. And he’s averaging just 156.3 yards per game over the past 4 weeks.

It’s looking like Carolina might have made a mistake -- albeit a low-cost mistake -- in swapping out Teddy Bridgewater for Darnold.
Week 7
Darnold was pulled in the Week 7 loss after ineptly managing just 111 pass yards and an INT on 16-for-25 passing vs. the Giants. Darnold was pressured all game and wasn’t able to get the offense in gear as the Panthers dropped their 4th straight after starting 3-0. He was replaced by QB PJ Walker, who didn’t fare better in the 22-point loss.
What a miserable stat line for Darnold in a matchup that looked great on paper. The Giants had given up 44 to Dallas and 38 to the Rams. Darnold was making the most of it with his legs, but defenses have altered their game plan to account for it and he looks lost when trying to make a play. HC Matt Rhule said he is still the starter moving forward and was looking for a jolt to upstart the offense. If he continues to play like this, though, he may be out of a job permanently in Carolina. In fact, the recent rumors circulating QB Deshaun Watson have the Panthers asking Houston for more information. Not a good situation in Charlotte right now.
Week 6
Darnold completed 17 of 41 passes for 207 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in Carolina's Week 6 overtime loss to the Vikings.
It was an extremely shaky performance from Darnold and the Panthers as they lost their 3rd game in a row. Darnold completed just 41% of his passes against a bad Vikings secondary — although he somehow led the Panthers on a game-tying TD drive to send the game to OT.
Darnold has looked more like the Darnold from the Jets, as he is not confident in the pocket and has been prone to inaccurate throws and turnovers. Darnold is tough to trust in fantasy right now and is no better than a QB2 going forward.
Week 5
Darnold struggled through easily his worst outing so far this season in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. He completed a season-low 56.8% of his passes for just 177 yards. Darnold found rookie TE Tommy Tremble for a 1st-quarter TD, but he also found Philly defenders for 3 INTs -- doubling his season total. Darnold’s 44.5 passer rating for the game fell way off his previous low of 85.5.

Pressure looks like it’ll be an issue at times for Darnold this year. Sunday marked the 2nd highest pressure rate he has seen: 31%, according to Pro Football Reference. That trailed only Week 1 (36.1% vs. the Jets) and marked the 3rd game of 30% or worse through 5 weeks. Only 3 teams are allowing a pressure rate of 30% or higher for the year so far. Carolina sits 6th highest.

That aspect clearly hasn’t kept Darnold from delivering in other games, though. And Week 6 brings a Vikings defense tied for just 18th in the league in QB hits for the year.
Week 4
No repeat of Darnold’s upset win over Dallas with a Jets team coming in winless in 2019. Carolina hadn’t lost this season until visiting the Cowboys Sunday. Darnold’s 2 rushing TDs, on an option and a QB draw, helped the Panthers to a 1-point halftime lead. Getting the ball to start the 2nd half, the Panthers seemed to be in good position. They overcame a holding penalty when Darnold connected with WR D.J. Moore for a 39-yard gain. After converting 4 of 6 3rd downs in the 1st half, Carolina went 0 for 7 in the final 2 quarters. The 1st post-halftime drive ended in a missed 54-yard FG attempt by Zane Gonzalez, followed by 20 Dallas points in the 3rd quarter. Darnold completed 12 of 16 before halftime, and 14 for 23 with 2 INTs in the 2nd half. He was sacked 5 times.
Carolina could bounce back at home Sunday against the Eagles, who weren’t competitive against Dallas 6 days earlier. Darnold will have to shoulder most of the offensive burden, which has included 5 rushing TDs from the QB, until RB Christian McCaffrey returns from a strained hamstring. The Panthers were hoping he’d be able to practice Wednesday, but that still would be a long way from playing in a game effectively. The schedule will be easier, with a 2nd straight home game against Minnesota and a winnable road contest against the Giants.
Week 3
Darnold came through for fantasy teams that started him in Week 3, finishing 6th among QBs in fantasy points.

It wasn’t conventional, though. Darnold scored not 1, but 2 rushing TDs. The 1st came on a read-option from 5 yards out. The 2nd was a 1-yard sneak after RB Royce Freeman was stuffed on the previous play.

We obviously can’t bank on rushing scores from Darnold going forward. Those were his 2nd and 3rd of the season, though, after also punching 1 in back in Week 1. Carolina is taking advantage of his underrated mobility, so we can at least project Darnold for some fantasy production with his legs.

And he continues to throw it well. While he didn’t tally a passing score in Week 3, Darnold completed 23 of 34 passes (68%) for 304 yards (8.9 YPA). He’s sitting on career highs with a 68% completion rate and 8.3 yards per attempt through 3 weeks. Darnold ranks 10th among 33 qualifying QBs in Pro Football Focus’ passing grades.

Losing RB Christian McCaffrey for the next few weeks hurts. But Darnold still has plenty to work with in WRs D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall. And he has 3 more plus matchups on tap: at Dallas, vs. Philadelphia and vs. Minnesota.
Week 2
Facing a Saints defense absent CB Marshon Lattimore, Darnold went on to post 305-2-1. That was enough to rank as the QB13 for Week 2. Darnold hit reserve WR Brandon Zylstra off play-action for his first score. (It looked like busted coverage on the Saints’ part.) Later, he hit DJ Moore for a goal line quick-slant TD. Darnold wasn’t perfect, though, as he tossed an INT and had another that should have been picked. He also overthrew Robby Anderson on what would have been a beautiful deep ball score. Despite some bumps, it’s clear the Carolina offense is in good hands with Joe Brady and Matt Rhule at the helm. Darnold will remain a streamer for Week 3 against Houston.
Week 1
Darnold played well enough in his Panthers debut, completing 24 of 35 passes (68.8%) for 279 yards (8.0 YPA), 1 TD and 0 INTs. The score came to a wide open WR Robby Anderson on a deep post from 57 yards out. Darnold also connected on all 9 targets to RB Christian McCaffrey and 6 of 8 to WR D.J. Moore.

He juiced up his fantasy production with a 5-yard rushing score on a designed QB sneak. Darnold finished 16th at the position in fantasy points on the week.

This came against the Jets, who figure to be 1 of the worst defenses in the league this year. But Darnold earned a strong 79.4 PFF passing grade, 8th highest on the week. So it was an encouraging debut.

Darnold is unlikely to reach QB1 status this season. But he’s good enough to at least be a spot-start option with his deep and talented cast of weapons.

Basic Stats Preseason Player Analysis

What You Need to Know:

  • Suspect coaching and a poor supporting cast torpedoed Darnold’s 2020. HC Adam Gase’s offense lacked creativity, and Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Braxton Berrios finished as the top targets.
  • The Jets’ O-line allowed Darnold to face pressure on a league-high 43% of his dropbacks.
  • Across 12 games, he finished as a top-15 fantasy QB only twice.
  • Darnold ranked near the bottom of the league in completion rate (59.6%), TD rate (2.5%), INT rate (3.0%), YPA (6.1) and QBR (40.1).
  • The results weren’t all about the situation, though. Darnold received the worst Pro Football Focus passing grade (52.7) of his career. That ranked 42nd among 44 QBs with 100+ dropbacks.
  • Darnold suffered a sprained right shoulder in Week 4. He missed 2 games before an aggravation cost him 2 more absences.
  • In April, the Panthers acquired Darnold in a trade and exercised his 5th-year option. Dealing Teddy Bridgewater to Denver confirmed that Darnold will start.
  • In the draft, Carolina passed on selecting Justin Fields or Mac Jones. Certainly a vote of confidence for Darnold.
  • The Panthers added offseason pieces around Darnold, including TE Dan Arnold and rookies Terrace Marshall (WR) and Brady Christensen (LT).
  • Carolina lost Curtis Samuel in free agency. But an offense with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Marshall — plus a healthy Christian McCaffrey — brings a high ceiling for 2021.
  • The O-line is a potential weak link. RT Taylor Moton is the only high-level player up front.
  • The Panthers finished mid-pack with a 57.5% pass rate in 2020. While we like the creativity of a Joe Brady offense, don’t expect huge pass volume to propel Darnold.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line

Only 24, Darnold has time to turn his career around. The Panthers provide an upgrade across the board, save for an O-line that remains a question mark.

As for Darnold, though, we just haven’t seen anything more than the occasional flash to forecast a breakout. A small step forward is pretty much a lock, but don’t bank on Darnold as anything more than a fantasy spot-starter.


Recent Shark Bites View All Shark Bites »

Panthers QB Sam Darnold will start this weekend's game vs. the Saints, HC Matt Rhule said Wednesday. Rhule added that QB Cam Newton "will be ready," but it's unclear if he'll play at all. Darnold, of course, isn't a recommended fantasy play even if he's out there for 100% of the snaps.

View all Sam Darnold Shark Bites »

Panthers QB Sam Darnold could play a "substantial amount" vs. the Bucs today, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. QB Cam Newton will get the start but Darnold is expected to enter "within a few series," per Rapoport. "Playing time will be determined based on the success Darnold is having." This is obviously a situation to avoid in Week 16 fantasy lineups. Rapoport adds that Darnold could cement himself as the starter for the final 2 games of the season based on his performance today.

View all Sam Darnold Shark Bites »

Panthers HC Matt Rhule said Wednesday that QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) will play vs. the Bucs this weekend. QB Cam Newton will start and have a "major role," Rhule added. It's completely unclear how snaps will be divvied between the 2 QBs, making the situation an easy avoid in Week 16 fantasy lineups.

View all Sam Darnold Shark Bites »

Panthers QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) has been designated to return from IR and will practice on Wednesday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Darnold has been out since fracturing the scapula in his right shoulder back in Week 9. HC Matt Rhule said earlier this week that Darnold might get back into the mix down the stretch, so we'll see where this goes.

View all Sam Darnold Shark Bites »

The Panthers are not expecting to get QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) back this season, a source tells ESPN's Adam Schefter. HC Matt Rhule said earlier this week that Darnold could be back in 4-6 weeks, but it sounds like that was optimistic. QB Cam Newton is expected to start Week 11 and will likely be under center the rest of the season.

View all Sam Darnold Shark Bites »

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