Sam Darnold has been traded to the Carolina Panthers by the New York Jets. Here’s the NFL betting and fantasy football outlook for Darnold, the Panthers, the Jets and everyone involved — including likely new Jets quarterback Zach Wilson.
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Sam Darnold Traded To Panthers From Jets
The Carolina Panthers have acquired quarterback Sam Darnold from the New York Jets in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick along with second- and fourth-round picks in 2022, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This all but locks in a quarterback as the Jets’ selection at No. 2 overall. Could the Panthers still be in the quarterback market at Pick 8, even with Teddy Bridgewater still on the team?
Darnold’s erratic — often horrific — New York career notwithstanding, he still carries plenty of intrigue in the NFL. The No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will turn just 24 years old in June but has three pro seasons under his belt. Of course, he hasn’t had a completion percentage higher than a modest 61.9 in any of those years, and he has an all-time 45:39 TD:INT, including a woeful 9:11 last year.
He has been held back by his difficult team context that included a porous offensive line, limited weapons, and poor coaching. Acquiring Darnold is a bet on his prospect pedigree.
Still, Carolina didn’t give up a big enough lot of draft capital to assume Darnold is the outright starting quarterback. They could still take anyone who falls out of Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones — or even take another project later on — and then have Darnold compete and/or hold the baton until whichever rookie lands there is ready.
On the other hand, trying to mold Darnold will more likely allow Carolina to use its No. 8 pick to address another team need, perhaps on the offensive line that would in theory help Darnold get more time to throw.
If Darnold can start for at least a portion of 2021, working with Panthers OC Joe Brady, one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, could revive his career. Brady of course helped turn Joe Burrow into a budding star at LSU.
Darnold has underrated mobility that could help him succeed within this system, and he now has talented receivers like D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and RB Christian McCaffrey at his disposal.
This is all for naught if Darnold can’t improve his reads and overall decision-making that’s led him to a turnover-prone start to his career, though. That’ll be the key.
Panthers NFL Betting Outlook
I’m targeting the Over 7.5 Wins (-106) Carolina Panthers futures bet on PointsBet.
Teddy Bridgewater held this offense back in his first season as the starter, as he’s not enough of a playmaker to unlock the full potential of this offense. If Darnold can start to show the talent that made him the third overall pick, he can really help this offense take off. The NFC South will be a tough division with the Bucs and Saints remaining as contenders and the Falcons likely improved, but the Panthers have an intriguing offense that could make them a surprise team in 2021. — Frank Ammirante
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Panthers/Darnold Fantasy Football Outlook
Darnold finished as QB33 in fantasy points per game last season, so he was completely off the fantasy radar, except in superflex or dynasty leagues. However, the Jets were a total dumpster fire last season, with quite possibly the worst team context you can have for a young quarterback. The opposite will be true for Darnold in Carolina.
Darnold will be more of a willing downfield passer than Bridgewater, who sometimes prefers to check it down too often. This can really help Moore and Anderson. Darnold is also more of a mobile quarterback than Bridgewater, which should also help this offense.
The biggest beneficiary of this move is Darnold himself, who now is an appealing target in superflex and dynasty leagues. He’ll also be on the streaming radar or even in play as a late-round quarterback in season-long formats.
I’m excited about this move for both Darnold and the Panthers offense as a whole. I’d be looking to trade for him in dynasty leagues, perhaps offering a quarterback like Jameis Winston and a draft pick if necessary. I think that Darnold has every opportunity to finish as a Top-20 fantasy quarterback in 2021, with an upside for even more. This is going to rejuvenate his career. -FA
Jets NFL Betting Outlook
Now that we’ve seen the Jets trade Sam Darnold, this all but locks in Zach Wilson as the No. 2 overall pick for the Jets. They’ve been enamored with the BYU product for much of this offseason, and trading Darnold is a clear move in the direction of a QB.
(“Wilson as Pick 2" has been pulled off the board at some sportsbooks, but he’s now at -1100 at BetMGM. Hopefully you got those bets in when the ROI was better.) -Tim Heaney
Jets Fantasy Football Outlook
The likely arrival of Wilson under center doesn’t change the volatility that’s ahead for the Jets’ pass-catching group for the 2021 NFL season.
Wideout Corey Davis is probably their top target but likely shouldn’t be deemed better than a WR3 for fantasy football drafts. Denzel Mims could eventually become the top target but doesn’t profile as anything more than a single-season flex. Jamison Crowder gets a bump to WR3 in PPR (point-per-reception) formats, assuming he hands around.
The Jets will probably draft or sign a running back to improve their current Tevin Coleman-Ty Johnson-Josh Adams group.
Their long-term ceiling now climbs a bit, assuming Wilson can develop into the top-12-or-so NFL QB New York is hoping for, at minimum. -TH