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Sam Darnold will start over Cam Newton vs. Saints in Week 17

We break down the news that Sam Darnold will start in Week 17.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium.  Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Cam Newton for his second stint as the Carolina Panthers starting quarterback has ended. Sam Darnold is back and healthy and has been named the starting quarterback by head coach Matt Rhule, per ESPN’s David Newton.

Newton showed that he could still be effective running the ball, but his passing prowess continues to plummet. He only completed 54% of his passes for 684 yards at 5.4 yards per attempt, with four touchdowns to five interceptions. He added 46 rushing attempts for 225 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. We could end up seeing Newton in the red zone, but Darnold should get the bulk of the snaps moving forward.

Fantasy football implications

Darnold hasn’t been any better than Newton statistically, but has average a bit more yardage per passing attempt. With no run game to speak of, the Panthers need to get the ball to their strength, which is D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. Darnold should be a little better at that than Newton.