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2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Commentary: The Sam Darnold Trade

Date:
April 6, 2021 8:35 AM
April 6, 2021 8:33 AM


2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Commentary: The Sam Darnold Trade

 

I never said I was a Carolina Panthers fan, did I? That must have been someone else. I said, last year, I was a future Carolina Panthers fan…after the 2020 season. Well, I am going to go ahead and give my two weeks’ notice – I am not going to be a Carolina fan in 2021.

Of course, I’m just talking about ‘being a fan’ of a team in jest – I am a fan of no team. I am only into putting my faith behind a team ‘of the moment’ for pure (betting) profit – like last year with Buffalo. My ‘favorite team’ is a minute-by-minute thing, whatever I need/have bet on. Being a fan of a team is the worst. I should know, I used to be ‘a fan’ – then I started working in football and got to see how the donuts were made…and now I don’t ever want to eat a donut again.

Bad analogy, I love donuts. But I didn’t want to approach using ‘sausage’ in that last sentence.

What I am not jesting about is – I am pulling my faith in Carolina. Actually, I’m pulling my faith in Matt Rhule here. Pulling it…sitting on the sidelines…waiting for a ‘buy signal’ to get back in.

I love Matt Rhule, the football coach and human.

I hate/utterly despise this trade, from a Carolina perspective, for Sam Darnold more than I abhor wearing a mask for Covid.  

I said it two years before he entered the Draft…

I said it a year before he entered the Draft…

I said it in scouting reports in his pre-Draft year, and his post-Draft and his every NFL preseason and in-season…

Sam Darnold is awful.

Darnold is not a starting NFL quarterback talent. Never was. The mainstream can keep wishing upon a star all they want (like they do with Jameis Winston, Daniel Jones, and Tua) but it’s not going to change the fact that Darnold blows. What I love about how awful Darnold is…is the fact that all of Fantasy Football (or most) saw the problem/reality pretty quickly and ran from him. But all the professional football minds who wear suits to talk about football and con us consistently – they are still with Darnold (and Jameis…and Danny Dimes…and Tua).

The same people who just KNEW Darnold was great, and that Adam Gase was the perfect coach for him…they are now going to weigh in on this deal with all their typical authority. It always makes me laugh.

I’m not just some barstool voice bellowing “Darnold sucks!” I do this (football study) for a living…all year round. I’m not perfect, I’m just better at scouting than anyone else roaming the planet. I’ve been wrong on things in scouting before, but rarely at quarterback scouting…and really ‘never’ wrong when I go opposite the entirety of football on high ranked QB prospects I think are bust material. And I haven’t been wrong about Darnold yet going back to his USC days when they first started to coronate him.

I’m not going to be wrong about Darnold here, either. Sam Darnold is a backup NFL talent a la a Chase Daniel or Matt Moore…something not totally horrific in a pinch.

You want an analysis summary of this deal? Here goes…

The quarterback that the godawful Jets saw for three years and don’t want anything to do with anymore is now going to a new team (Carolina) to supposedly be ‘fixed’ by a guy/organization/new regime (Carolina) that spent $33M guaranteed last year for their current QB, one who they didn’t really make any better in his first/one season with them and who they are giving up on after one year (so, they have ‘bad mistake at QB’ on their record in just one year as a regime)…and is also now a QB who they will take a massive fiscal hit to trade or cut.

Here’s the Carolina problem no one outside of Carolina really cares about detailing…and that no inside Carolina (the fans and fawning media) will want to realize…

1) Carolina needed a quarterback for the future last year…they cleaned house, new regime, fresh start.

2) Instead of trading up for Justin Herbert, Carolina rather paid Teddy Bridgewater $33M guaranteed to come in and be their quarterback…and signed P.J. Walker to be their understudy.

3) The Panthers didn’t have the guts or foresight to trade up for Justin Herbert and took a defensive tackle instead at #7 overall…a few picks later C.J. Henderson, Mekhi Becton and Tristan Werfs were drafted – better players at more key positions.

They missed out on elite Herbert (in a sense they missed), elite Henderson, elite Becton, and elite Werfs at CRITICAL positions…and instead took a ‘good’ Derrick Brown at the overstocked position of defensive tackle.

Hey, everyone makes mistakes…

4) An offseason later, they let their best wide receiver walk…Curtis Samuel.

5) Now, they just traded for Sam Darnold…which causes the ripple effects of…

5a) They will pay Sam Darnold $10M in 2021 season. They then just committed to his 5th-year option in 2022 of $19M. They are really COMMITTED to this!!

It’s not that they gave up a 2nd-round pick in 2022 and some later picks no one will care about…it’s not that they ‘didn’t give up much’ for a look. It’s that Darnold will fail, the picks will be lost assets, and THEY ARE PAYING HIM $29M the next two years and likely won’t draft another top QB in 2021 because of it. Kyle Trask is not a great plan B here…

5b) They owe Teddy $20M to ditch him, unless they can find a team for him.

5c) They are trying to trade not-in-demand Teddy Bridgewater and his expensive, now seen as ‘stupid’, deal they did with him – and are trying to trade this mess in a current marketplace where all the QB moves have been made pretty much…and Jimmy Garoppolo is also on the market…a QB in more demand and who has a more friendly contract, so any team wanting a serviceable QB can have a shot at him.

But, in the end, what teams are even desperate for a QB now? Who is desperate for Teddy Bridgewater and his bad contract?

5d) All this new QB chaos because they didn’t have the balls to move up to #3 like San Francisco did to take Mac Jones (who Matt Rhule wanted/coached in the Senior Bowl).

If any one thing made the Darnold trade happen…it was the 49ers moving into #3 spot for Jones.

6) David Tepper is supposed to be this management genius with deep pockets – and his management team has missed on Justin Herbert (by not trying to trade up) and missed out on the top 3-4 QBs of 2021 because they didn’t move up. Carolina has been outmaneuvered at quarterback for two years now.

Will 2022 be the ‘third time’s a charm’ moment to find a quarterback?

The most important position in the NFL…and Carolina is failing miserably at it – and going worse, not better, with the lost picks and fiscally expensive Darnold. A pattern is developing here with Carolina and quarterbacks – and it is not good. Not good with the names they are chasing, and not good with the money they are setting ablaze for them.

Matt Rhule has dug about three feet of his grave now…and there is no sign he’s stopping shoveling anytime soon.

This Darnold thing is going to be a bad-bad move…made worse if they don’t get a legit quarterback from this draft (and they likely won’t). If they do draft a quarterback at #8, why did they do the Darnold deal then? The Panthers are all-in on Sam Darnold, and I assure you – that’s not a good thing. Carolina as a best bet ‘over’ on season win total, start hedging those bets if you made some already (like me).

There are two ways out of this…

1) If Carolina is stuck with Teddy, and he wins the job, and he might get them to a low-end playoff position (as he almost did last year with several near losses without Christian McCaffrey).

2) Carolina just flips Darnold elsewhere, but that seems HIGHLY unlikely.

 

Fantasy Impact?

It’s not a massive downgrade from Teddy to Sam, but it is definitely downward. Robby Anderson flopped with Darnold before…and why would it be different with Sam now?

D.J. Moore probably gets over-targeted and might be a Jamison Crowder type thing for Darnold to dump passes off to (which has had sweet FF moments/output from time-to-time).

Dan Arnold’s sleeper hopes get erratic, most likely…as Darnold is not a tight window, between-the-hashes-assassin for a tight end to prosper in. But Arnold has an expanded passing game use (a former WR), so maybe Dan Arnold does OK as the Jets tight ends would do ‘OK’ when Darnold was rolling (in rare ‘rolling’ times).

The sleeper Carolina defense hope gets dialed back. This offense is not going to be great at helping the defense with possession…and leads…

Christian McCaffrey gets the worst quarterback he’s ever played with (and that’s saying something with Cam, Kyle Allen, Teddy)…and the worst offense to move the ball and get in scoring position with. CMC will get a million targets, I’m sure…but those juicy TD counts – probably not. Teams can pinch up on CMC and will let Darnold go ahead and try and beat them otherwise. Spoiler alert: He won’t.  

My prediction on how this will work out for Carolina/Rhule…and all the Panthers-related FF scenarios: https://youtu.be/lSPNQ82Sq4E



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College Football Metrics (CFM) 2021 Season – For Dynasty Rookie Drafts, NFL Drafts, Handicapping, etc.

It’s going to be a scouting NFL Draft season like no other – some top prospects opting out of their final college season, a unique schedule for CFB teams to have played, a different type of bowl season…a whole new backdrop to scout against. An experienced, talented scouting eye is going to rule. I have 10+ years of successful CFM scouting and analytics to lean on – I’m ready for the challenge.

I know the mainstream football analysis is going to butcher this year’s class even worse than normal – because they are going to blindly favor big school prospects more than ever, because those schools will have the only names they are truly familiar with, and it’s just the ‘name’ they are familiar with not their ‘game’. They’ll ‘hive mind’ run with whatever names the collective seems to be buzzing about – because they don’t put in the work, they just echo things they’ve heard. I’m not saying that to be a jerk – it’s the open window of opportunity (their failure) that I was able to build my career/business upon.

I spend many hours each offseason day/week/month researching the current class of top 100+ prospects individually as well as all the smaller school and ‘lesser named’ prospects our computer models start to identify. I study and compare prospect’s tape, and I input the performance data (weighted with our secret, proprietary scouting formulas) to get a firsthand feel for it so I can analyze and test/challenge all our analytics. I get to know these prospects on the field, statistically, and do character background research as well -- so I can boil it down to reports so my private clients and subscribers (from serious fantasy players, to professional handicappers, to agents, to NFL war room personnel) can know these prospects by description and statistically – for NFL purposes, for Dynasty Rookie Draft purposes, for Fantasy Best Ball/Redraft purposes in the preseason, and for handicapping and prop betting purposes.

If you love Fantasy Football, if you love the NFL Draft process – I guarantee you’ll never look at the process the same way again with a CFM subscription.

As the regular season football ends, a whole new season of football discovery begins with our ‘CFM’ subscription and study or current and past rookies (offense and defense) – and material flows daily all offseason January to September (NFL season start), leading us to using the material to our advantage for the NFL regular season.

Go to our College Football Metrics or Fantasy Football Metrics subscription pages for more information. 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>