How to Approach Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy in Fantasy Football

May 02, 2024
How to Approach Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy in Fantasy Football

The Vikings traded up one draft spot from No. 11 to the 10th overall pick to select Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy. The reigning National Champion will inherit a loaded offense from Kirk Cousins, who left Minnesota for Atlanta as a free agent. McCarthy’s fantasy relevance will depend on whether he can beat out Sam Darnold during training camp and transition well to the NFL.

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J.J. McCarthy as a Prospect

The Wolverines had an elite defense and a strong, heavily featured rushing attack during McCarthy’s three years in Ann Arbor. His lack of passing attempts in two years as the starter is a concern for some, as he only threw 322 and 332 passes in 2022 and 2023, which sat 68th and 53rd, respectively, among CFB QBs. McCarthy rarely needed to win games with his arm, however, he did deliver when asked to execute tough throws in key situations and consistently showed a concise delivery of the football with little wasted movement and solid footwork.

McCarthy played in a pro-style offense at both the high school and college level and has the intangibles coaches look for, like solid leadership qualities and mental toughness. Of course, he’ll have to be on the field for any of this to matter for fantasy purposes.

J.J. McCarthy’s Fit With the Vikings

Aside from arguably Caleb Williams in Chicago, McCarthy landed in the spot with the best built-in supporting cast in the NFL. His top WRs are Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, with former Packer Aaron Jones in the backfield. TE T.J. Hockenson just adds to the riches when he returns from a torn ACL and MCL he suffered back in Week 16 of 2023.

McCarthy should fit well in the Minnesota offense as their West Coach system run by Kevin O’Connell, suits his style of play. The only real question that remains heading into the season is if he can win the starting role in training camp. You can’t score fantasy points holding a clipboard, so if McCarthy isn’t able to beat out Sam Darnold or even worse, Nick Mullens to start the season out, his draft value will be a reflection of opportunity.

The scenarios we’re looking at would be the Vkings deciding to sit the rookie for the whole year, giving the keys to Darnold no matter what, Minnesota opting to play McCarthy from the start and have him learn on the fly as a rookie, or a wait and see approach which could give him any number of games depending on Darnold’s play and McCarthy’s development.

How to Approach J.J. McCarthy and the Offense for Fantasy Football

Let’s say McCarthy is the Week 1 starter in Minnesota. He’s not a redraft candidate but is viable in superflex leagues as a QB2 and a fringe QB2/3 in best ball formats. The rookie is currently leaving Underdog draft boards as the QB27 at pick 16.06.

There’s also the chance that McCarthy comes on hot in the second half of the season whether he began as the starter or not, and is a waiver-wire darling for those with QB issues and injuries that inevitably occur every season.

Justin Jefferson’s ADP already has the QB change baked in as he’s now the WR4 in Underdog drafts at Pick 1.06 compared to last year’s 1.01 as WR1. Addison is currently affordable as a fantasy WR4 at spot 6.09, while the aforementioned knee injury has Hockenson leaving boards as the TE13 in the late 10th round.

After inheriting this backfield from the underwhelming Alexander Mattison, Aaron Jones looks like a delightful zero-RB candidate this season, as he’s being drafted in the so-called Dead Zone for rushers, as RB18 at the turn of the sixth to seventh round.

Bottom Line

  • J.J. McCarthy landed in a solid spot in Minnesota that’s loaded with juicy fantasy weapons.
  • His status as a starter in his rookie season is still to be determined, with a range of possibilities for games played in 2024.
  • For fantasy purposes, McCarthy isn’t draftable as more than a QB2 gamble in redraft leagues, but has the potential to put up QB2 numbers in superflex and best ball formats. His current Underdog ADP is QB27 at pick 16.06.
  • Justin Jefferson remains a fantasy WR1 with a WR4 ADP at spot 1.06, Jordan Addison’s price is nice as WR40 in the sixth round, and T.J. Hockenson’s injury-discounted ADP is TE13.
  • Aaron Jones is shaping up to be a Zero RB candidate as the RB18 at the 6/7 turn in early Underdog drafts.
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