Why You Should Draft Christian McCaffrey 1.01

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The fantasy season is just around the corner and it’s time to prepare to win your league!

Most people playing fantasy football this season will consider 4 players with the potential to go first overall in drafts. These players are Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Today, we’ll take a look at CMC’s case, followed by some of his potential drawbacks.

The Case for CMC:

To kick this off, we’re going to look back at McCaffrey’s 2018 fantasy season, as he finished top 2 in PPR formats (depending on minor scoring differences he was either 1 or 2). CMC was incredibly efficient on the ground with nearly 1,100 rushing yards on only 219 attempts. This is impressive by itself, but what makes CMC so special is his pass catching ability. The halfback had 124 targets, which ranks 2nd in the league since 2014, behind only Matt Forte in 2014. Alongside his high number of targets, he also reeled in a higher percentage of them than an average running back would have. CMC snagged 86.6% of his targets and had the most receptions by an RB in a season at 110. That mark of 110 was 17 receptions ahead of the next closest RB, Saquon Barkley. Along with his historic reception mark, CMC cashed in with 6 receiving TDs which tied him for 3rd in the league last season. Aside from stats, CMC has some other things going for him in 2019, such as his OC, Norv Turner, returning. This is massive because Turner likes to use one bellcow RB, which led to McCaffrey seeing over 94% of the RB snaps last season. He also saw the 3rd highest percent of weighted opportunities, which puts a higher value on targets and a lower value on carries. Lastly for stats, CMC who is regarded as a smaller RB, saw 60 red zone touches which ranks 4th in the league. Finally, the Panthers brought in one of the best centers in the league, Matt Paradis, this offseason which should have CMC find some running lanes and propel his rushing stats further.

The Case Against CMC

CMC has put on some weight this offseason in hopes of sustaining a bellcow role in the Panthers offense.

It’s always said that CMC isn’t built to be a bellcow RB and although he isn’t used exactly in that manner , he is still receiving around 325 touches per season, which will lead to a lot of hits. Even though the hits taken on receptions are typically less impactful, they will still add up on the smaller RB and could cause some injuries or decrease in usage next season. Two other major reasons why CMC may not be the 1.01 is because of Cam Newton–his shoulder health specifically. For example, in 2018, Cam was dealing with shoulder issues and lacked the arm strength to push the ball down the field. Therefore, McCaffrey was a great, safe option for him to throw at. As a result of Cam being healthy, it is possible that CMC sees a small decrease in targets. The 2nd reason why Cam’s health may impact CMC is because a healthy Cam will typically rush the ball somewhat frequently. In 2018 his attempts per game was 7.2, and his career average without 2018 is 7.6. Although a small drop, there’s an underlying difference: the rushing TDs. 2018 was Cam’s lowest rushing TD mark in his career, at just 4. This is likely a result of him being unwilling to sacrifice his body because of his shoulder injury. Assuming Newton comes back this year at full strength, expect this number to approach his career average 7.7 TDs per season. All of this means that CMC will likely see less red zone rushing attempts and likely a small decrease in his rushing TDs.

Currently, I have CMC just behind Barkley and just ahead of Kamara as my 1.02, but the rankings are very volatile and could easily change throughout the summer. However, I don’t see CMC sliding out of my top 3 unless an injury occurs.

But what do you think? Is CMC a worthy 1.01? Let us know in the comments below!

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