Christian McCaffrey is one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. At times in 2018, it seemed like it was a one-man show in Carolina and McCaffrey was the man. He was just 133 receiving yards short of going for over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. He took on a bigger role than his rookie season and proved he could shoulder the load. McCaffrey finished the 2018 season as the number two overall running back in PPR leagues. But Ron Rivera has reportedly mentioned scaling back his role. Here’s why he should be considered a top five back heading into 2019.
2019 Fantasy Football Outlook: Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey’s 2018 campaign was the perfect one to silence the doubters. In the 2017 season, he shared the backfield and failed to reach 4.0 yards per carry (reaching 3.7). It wasn’t a bad season by any means. In fact, he had 435 rushing yards along with 651 receiving yards. He was versatile. But there was room for skeptics.
Enter 2018 McCaffrey. He led the Carolina Panthers in both rushing and receiving, wracking up 1,098 rushing yards and 867 receiving yards. He had a combined 13 total touchdowns on the season. He averaged an even 5.0 yards per carry on a season that saw him add over 100 more touches than his rookie year. Let’s not forget the 50-yard touchdown pass he completed on a fourth down trick play that had fantasy and casual fans alike going crazy. He set the bar high for himself going into the 2019 season.
Expectations are high for McCaffrey heading into the 2019 season. Some would put McCaffrey in the conversation as the number one overall fantasy pick.
After setting the record for receptions in a season for a running back (107), it’s not surprising to hear that head coach Ron Rivera might scale back his role in the coming season. But that doesn’t mean fantasy owners should be worried. McCaffrey is perhaps one of the safest top tier running backs around. Since joining the league in 2017, McCaffrey hasn’t missed a game and has started in 26 of 32 appearances. He’s reliable.
Many teams have shifted to a running back by committee approach due to not having a back with the qualities that McCaffrey possesses. The good news is that the Panthers didn’t add anyone in the off-season that will threaten his workload. Coach Rivera may want to ensure McCaffrey’s longevity in the league with a potential role reduction, but the impact is sure to be slight.
With a healthy Cam Newton, McCaffrey would benefit. They have already gained chemistry and he’ll thrive with Newton healthy. The biggest question is where in the first round should you select him?
Christian McCaffrey Average Draft Position
McCaffrey is currently projected to be the fourth overall pick in half-PPR scoring formats, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com. When you look at who is ahead of him, it’s not surprising. Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, and Alvin Kamara are all slotted above McCaffrey currently. In Barkley and Elliot’s cases, they are likley to have the largest share of carries of the four. Kamara’s style of play is more similar to McCaffrey.
Fourth overall seems like a perfect spot to snag McCaffrey, as it’s hard to see him falling past the sixth or seventh pick. He’s not likely to miss playing time and is a top-five back, so it’s hard to overplay your hand if you’re considering McCaffrey with your pick.