Another complicating factor is Le'Veon Bell's status. Head coach Adam Gase announced Thursday he's hopeful his star running back can play but he will have an MRI due to shoulder soreness, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.
While Gang Green scramble to stay afloat without Darnold, fantasy owners are going to have questions about what to do with their Jets assets in his absence.
Even with raised expectations coming into 2019, Darnold hadn't yet proved himself worthy of being a fantasy starter in standard leagues. If you had him under center last week, hopefully the rest of your team was loaded with talent to have any hope of competing for a W. The second-year QB finished 28-of-41 passing for 175 yards and a touchdown without an interception in the 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Bell has long been one of the most productive fantasy options throughout his career, including in his last full season with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Factoring in the drop-off from playing with Ben Roethlisberger to Darnold—or now Trevor Siemian—Bell will still be an asset in the fantasy realm because of his versatility. The three-time Pro Bowler had 742 touches in his final two seasons with the Steelers, despite playing on a team that also had Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
In the event New York has to play against Cleveland without Bell, as well as Darnold, Ty Montgomery will likely be the fantasy player to keep an eye on:
Montgomery only had two carries in Week 1 against the Bills, but Gase could look to attack Cleveland's run defense after it gave up 123 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries in Week 1 to the Tennessee Titans.
The fact Bell needs an MRI isn't an encouraging sign that he will be the go-to running back if he's able to play against the Browns. Montgomery shouldn't be hard to get a hold of in your fantasy league. The 26-year-old is only owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues and 10 percent of ESPN leagues, per Fantasy Pros.
Siemian is a useful backup for an NFL roster, but in the fantasy world, you're better off exploring the waiver wire because there will be a better quarterback available if you need one.
On the losing side of the spectrum, Robby Anderson will likely see his production plummet with Siemian running the offense. The 26-year-old has been an erratic player throughout his career anyway. Last season he had six games with five or fewer targets and had seven straight games with three or fewer receptions.
When Anderson was at his best in 2017 (941 yards and seven touchdowns on 63 receptions), the Jets had Josh McCown as their starting quarterback.
But if fantasy owners are betting on anyone other than New York's running backs to make an impact, they will be sorely let down.