The Carolina Panthers selected Christian McCaffrey eighth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Panthers wanted to add some spark and excitement to their offense that was mostly stagnant in 2016 after an incredible 2015. McCaffrey will be a welcome addition to the Panthers offense as they look for a playmaker.
McCaffrey attended Stanford University where he was a swiss army knife player, meaning he could do it all. He lined up as a running back, ran routes as a receiver, and returned punts and kicks.
It seems like McCaffrey will take this offense by storm and become a favorite target for Cam Newton, but will that be the case? There’s no doubt McCaffrey has the skills but will he help the Panthers offense regain their 2015 form?
These are the questions Fantasy Football players are asking. So, should you draft Christian McCaffrey? Let’s take a look.
Should I Draft Christian McCaffrey?
McCaffrey did everything at Stanford. He was asked to run between the tackles, run routes and play as a wide receiver, and even return punts. McCaffrey didn’t just do everything, he excelled at everything.
McCaffrey finished his 3-year career at Stanford with 5,128 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns. He also added 1,479 kick return yards and 380 punt return yards and two touchdowns in college.
The versatility shown in college is what led him to become a high pick in the NFL Draft and now the Panthers are hoping he can bring that same versatility to their offense.
2017 Fantasy Outlook: Christian McCaffrey
The outlook for McCaffrey largely depends on where the Panthers decide to play him.
Like I said above, McCaffrey is one of the rare talents that can play multiple positions in an offense.
The Panthers boast a receiving core that includes Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess with Tight End Greg Olsen patrolling the middle of the field. They also have a good Quarterback in Cam Newton.
The offensive line isn’t great, but it’s an alright situation. It won’t affect McCaffrey’s ability to run or Newton’s ability to get the ball to McCaffrey.
What intrigues me the most about McCaffrey is how well he’ll pair with Cam Newton.
The guys from FNTSY Sports in the video below explain what this pairing could look like. They compare Newton-McCaffrey to the pairing of Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy from the Buffalo Bills. They also explain how McCaffrey fits:
As the guys explain there, there wasn’t a much better fit for McCaffrey than what he can bring to the Panthers. They also allude to the Panthers losing Ted Ginn Jr. who was their punt/kick returner. This could open the door for McCaffrey to field punts and kicks and be a cornerstone of the offense.
The Panthers currently have a running back on the roster that will provide competition for McCaffrey: Jonathan Stewart.
The Panthers gave Stewart a one-year contract extension this offseason, so they clearly value him. Stewart was extremely valuable in 2015 but battled injuries this past season and was largely ineffective.
Even with Stewart as the incumbent on the roster, I think McCaffrey is the Carolina running back to own in Fantasy for multiple reasons:
- The Panthers selected him at eight overall for a reason. They must think that he’s a dynamic playmaker, otherwise he wouldn’t have been taken that high.
- Stewart has battled injuries that past few seasons. He played in only 13 games the past three seasons and played in six games the season before that.
- McCaffrey is a better pass catcher than Jonathan Stewart. This gives McCaffrey more value on third downs and he’s a dangerous option out of the backfield.
- As talked about by the guys in the FNTSY video, Stewart is on the wrong side of 30. McCaffrey is 20 years old and has less wear and tear on his body than Stewart.
Let’s say Stewart remains the starting Running Back. McCaffrey will still have opportunities to get on the field whether it’s playing as a wide receiver in the slot or being the third down running back. This still gives him PPR (points per reception) league value as a pass catcher.
I think McCaffrey ends up having a very productive year for the Carolina Panthers. His versatility makes him a force to be reckoned with no matter where he plays in the offense. McCaffrey boasts through the roof value in PPR leagues because of his pass catching abilities. He also holds value in standard leagues because of his ability to rack up yards from scrimmage. Christian McCaffrey is a must-own in all leagues and should be the first rookie running back taken in Fantasy drafts.
Take a look at our other Rookie offerings: