We’re approaching the 2024 season. Every year, a few players seize on the right opportunity and surprise for fantasy players. The value comes from trying to predict who it will end up being this time of year and stashing them. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at some 2024 sleeper candidates at each key fantasy position: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Hopefully, these are players you can acquire at a value that will propel you to fantasy glory.

As I continue with my final quarterback option, I’m going to one of the teams that snagged a First-Round signal caller. It’s possible that five quarterbacks taken in the First Round of the NFL Draft will all start the season. It’s also possible that, aside from Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels, we’ll see some veterans get the start. Could one of those veterans start most of the season and do well? That’s the question.

That’s why I’m going with Sam Darnold of the Minnesota Vikings for my fourth and final QB sleeper. Can Darnold rejuvenate his career in Minnesota? Let’s examine the evidence.

The Case for Sam Darnold

Darnold was once a First-Round selection as well. He was taken third overall by the New York Jets. After an up-and-down rookie season, he had a rough start to his second season. But, following missing time at the outset, he finished 7-6 in 13 starts, showing some promising signs. The wheels came off the bus completely for Darnold and the Jets in year three, leading to him being traded to the Carolina Panthers.

A new start in Carolina seemed promising at the outset. But injuries again derailed Darnold, who slumped badly upon his return. In his second year in Carolina, he lost the starting job to Baker Mayfield. That didn’t work out for the Panthers, and Darnold found himself starting again to close the 2022 season. He finished 4-2, throwing for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns, and only three interceptions. That led him to the 49ers, where he was a solid No. 2 for the NFC Champions in 2023.

Now, he comes to Minnesota. The Vikings struggled some in 2023. After a rocky start, Kirk Cousins had the Vikings going well when he suffered a season-ending injury. Before that, he was 4-4 with 2,331 yards, 18 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. Behind him, the team relied on three players for the nine remaining games. The combination of Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall went 3-6, throwing for 2,369 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The turnovers, particularly late, seemed to doom the Vikings.

If Darnold can show the growth and poise he showed in 2022 in Carolina and last season in San Francisco, he can eliminate turnovers. He also has a tremendous supporting cast, led by Justin Jefferson, including Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson. That could be good for Darnold, the Vikings, and fantasy players.

The Case Against Sam Darnold

But a franchise doesn’t take a quarterback with the tenth overall pick in the First Round to let them sit on the bench. That’s the biggest obstacle to Darnold being the guy in 2024. J.J. McCarthy is a First-Round NFL Draft pick coming off a National Championship with Michigan last season.

The question is whether he’ll be ready. While Michigan won a title, they didn’t boast a robust pass offense. He threw for just 2,991 yards but did complete more than 72 percent of his passes and 18 touchdowns against only four interceptions. It could be a big leap to the up-tempo pass offense of the Vikings.

The Bottom Line

What will the Vikings do? Will they roll out the rookie and hope he can become a star? Or will they turn to a veteran who has worked to eliminate turnovers and stabilize his play? If you’re hedging your bets, it comes down to value.

McCarthy is likely heavily rostered in C2C leagues or went in the First Round of a rookie draft. Darnold was likely a waiver-wire player, currently sitting at QB34 in an average draft position. I also think the Vikings, who’ve said Darnold is the starter right now, are leaning toward letting him play this season to see if they can return to the playoffs. That, to me, makes him worthy of a stash at this point.

Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.

Get Our Newsletter

Get notified periodic notifications about our content and future subscription deals.

You May Also Like

2024 Sleeper Candidates: Devin Singletary

Will the Giants’ new running back be effective in fantasy in 2024?

2024 Sleeper Candidates: Gus Edwards

Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh together means we REALLY want a piece of the rushing attack. @Knighthawk7734 lays out the case for Gus Edwards – could he be a SLEEPER in 2024?