QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets
2017 Stats: 4,143 pass yds., 26 TD, 13 INT; 5 rush TD
Sam Darnold was in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, but he went No. 3 to the New York Jets with an immediate chance to win the starting job. He did fairly well in the preseason, completing over 64 percent of his passes while taking the majority of the first-team reps.
Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles has remained non-committal on who the starting quarterback will be, as expected. But ESPN’s Rich Cimini has passed along a vibe within the locker room that Darnold will be the guy.
With that as the premise, does Darnold belong on the fantasy radar now?
Darnold entered last year at USC as a Heisman front runner, but outside of yards per attempt and yardage his numbers dropped from 2016. Turnovers were a major issue last year, with 22 total (including nine fumbles), which may be a product of great pressure to perform and simply trying to do too much.
The primary issue for Darnold will be his supporting cast. A below-average offensive line was not altered during the offseason, and the team’s best two wide receivers are either subject to possible league discipline due to offseason legal issues (Robby Anderson) or coming off missing last season due to injury (Quincy Enunwa). And Jermaine Kearse, who led the team in catches last year (65), has missed some time recently with an abdominal injury.
The Jets do have capable running backs, with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell in some order atop the depth chart. But the talent around Darnold is severely lacking, which won’t help him succeed as a rookie.
Assuming the inevitable that Darnold is named the starter, he’ll fall in as a back-end QB2 or a streaming option in fantasy leagues. Anything more than that is a step too far to expect for this year, but Darnold is obviously a very good dynasty league asset.
Sam Darnold 2018 Projection: 2,575 pass yds, 16 TD, 8 INT; 1 rush TD
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