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Get ready for Sam Darnold to start Week 1?

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Sun, 09 Jun 2024, 5:46 PM EDT
Sam Darnold Headshot

In recapping the Vikings' just-completed minicamp, The Athletic's Alec Lewis says QB Sam Darnold "looked calm, confident and prepared for what is likely to be another starting opportunity." Lewis also highlighted the inconsistency in rookie QB J.J. McCarthy's performance, adding that it should be expected for the first-round pick. Lewis added that Darnold took every first-team rep in the minicamp and that McCarthy didn't work with starters when the Vikings split into "starters" and "developmental" groups. Minnesota signed Darnold to a one-year, $10 million contract before the draft, with $8.75 million of that fully guaranteed. That doesn't lock in Darnold as the starter for any portion of the coming season. But it's enough money to suggest that we shouldn't be surprised if he opens the year behind center.

What They're Saying

Lewis: "Darnold’s consistency stood out for three days. He connected with Jefferson on a couple of over routes Wednesday, dropping the ball into hard-to-see windows. He anticipated cuts and displayed touch."

Vikings DT Harrison Phillips, who played against Darnold in college and opened his career with the Bills while the QB was with the Jets: “I know firsthand how much arm talent he has. This is the best team he’s been on. This is the best system for him. He’s hopefully going to find the ceiling of his play this season for us.”

2024 Fantasy Football Impact

Even if Darnold opens the year as the starting QB, he's obviously no lock to finish it that way. That makes neither Vikings signal-caller particularly attractive in 1-QB redraft formats.

Darnold carries value potential for superflex leagues, however. McCarthy's going 25th among QBs in current Underdog Fantasy superflex ADP, which puts him ahead of locked-in starters Bryce Young, Derek Carr, and Daniel Jones, among others.

Darnold, meanwhile, sits all the way down at QB35. He's a nice QB4 at that price, especially on best ball tournament rosters that already have any among Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson.

Dynasty Impact

The Vikings clearly drafted McCarthy with the intention to start him as soon as he's ready. Perhaps that doesn't even come this season. But Darnold's one-year deal and NFL history (this is his fourth team) make him a weak long-term bet.

NFL history tells us that McCarthy's likely to take over at some point this year.

Projected ADP Movement

Superflex ADP should shift in Darnold's favor the closer we get to September with him continuing to lead the depth chart. Feel free to take advantage of his low slot before that happens, though.

We have McCarthy higher in our rankings in anticipation that he takes over before midseason. But their relative draft prices make Darnold the better pick right now.

Of course, it's also OK to avoid both QBs in your non-dynasty drafting.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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