Oddsmakers Sure Like JJ McCarthy to Start Week 1 for Vikings

JJ McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota VikingsCredit: Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings begin voluntary offseason team activities on Monday and that means much of the 2024-25 team will be gathering at TCO Performance Center for the first time.

It’s also the first time Sam Darnold and JJ McCarthy will be on the field together as we build up to an eventual decision on who will be the Vikings starter under center for week 1 of the regular season vs the New York Giants.

We all know McCarthy is the future of this franchise. But, Darnold was promised a legitimate opportunity to start for at least one season. So the question is, how long can Sam hold onto QB1 while JJ incubates?

When will JJ McCarthy start for the Minnesota Vikings?

That’s where a lot of talking heads are split. Mike Clay (ESPN) is betting on the rookie and has him throwing for over 3,500 yards this season. Then, there’s Ben Goessling (Star Tribune), who pins week 12 as the most likely starting point for the McCarthy era of Minnesota Vikings football (Access Vikings Podcast).

These are the times that we look to the oddsmakers for guidance. When the experts and insiders can’t agree, what does Vegas say? Well… let’s just say that sportsbooks are giveing McCarthy much more than a fighting chance. Of course, it’s early on in the race.

Related: Vikings DC Brian Flores Shows League He Still Plans to Head Coach Again

But DraftKings is very close to giving JJ McCarthy a coin flip shot at winning the starting job by week 1. If you bet $100 on McCarthy as the week 1 starter, you’d win $115. Nearly even odds. That’s kind of crazy. On the other hand, if you think Sam Darnold will be the guy, -140 is way better value than you expected to get, so you’d better hit it now.

Vikings Starting QBOdds (DK)
Sam Darnold-140
JJ McCarthy+115
DraftKings.com

The oddsmaker love for McCarthy doesn’t end with DraftKings, though. If you look over at FanDuel, they currently have an over/under yardage total set for the Vikings’ rookie QB at 2,925.2 yards.

I’m no math whiz, but my calculator tells me that JJ would have to average 250 passing yards over the course of 12 games to reach 3,000. If the Vikings were to hold him out until after the bye (week 7), that would give him 11 games to reach that mark.

Related: T.J. Hockenson Expected to Miss Large Chunk of Vikings Season

Judging by their yardage total (2,925.5), it would appear that FanDuel’s oddsmakers expect McCarthy to take over immediately after the bye, probably sooner. And given where DraftKings has the Vikings’ week 1 starter odds, I’d say the race for Minnesota’s QB1 is wide open entering OTAs on Monday.

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