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Sam Darnold start or sit: Week 1 fantasy football advice

We go over the fantasy football outlook of Sam Darnold ahead of the Carolina Panthers Week 1 matchup against the New York Jets.

Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts
Sam Darnold of the Carolina Panthers on the field before the preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers enter Year 2 under head coach Matt Rhule with a new quarterback at the helm. Sam Darnold, who flamed out with the New York Jets, gets a second chance to prove he’s a franchise quarterback in Carolina after the Panthers moved on from Teddy Bridgewater. Darnold will have significant weapons at his disposal, but will he be able to make the most of them?

Fantasy Football analysis: Panthers QB Sam Darnold

Darnold struggled in New York, but the Jets as a whole struggled during his tenure. Darnold didn’t have great weapons or stability at key coaching positions, which led to some uneven seasons for the quarterback. In Carolina, he’ll have strong skill positions and a coach with a long-term contract. It’s now up to him to show he can be a franchise player.

The Jets offer a “revenge game” situation for Darnold in Week 1. He’s going to have a chip on shoulder, whether he admits it or not. The Panthers should also get Christian McCaffrey back after a series of injuries last season. This is also a “revenge game” for Robby Anderson, who was Darnold’s teammate in New York.

Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation

Similar to Zach Wilson, Darnold is not worth starting Week 1 unless you’re in a league with 16 or more teams or you have multiple quarterback spots. He has good upside with the players around him, but it’s best to wait and see how Carolina’s offense functions before making Darnold a regular starter in your fantasy lineup. He could offer some value in DFS lineups and the matchup is favorable enough where the value could help strengthen other positions without much of a tradeoff.