Christian McCaffrey Fantasy Value & Stat Projections With Panthers

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After putting up video game numbers during his last two years at Stanford, Christian McCaffrey will look to translate his unique skill set to the NFL and the Carolina Panthers.

His ability to fill up the box score in a variety of ways is obviously enticing from a fantasy football perspective, so let’s take a look at what he brings to the table, and how he might produce with his new squad:


Strengths

Elite versatility and elusiveness.

During the last two years in Palo Alto, Ed’s son was a workhorse for the Cardinal, carrying the ball 590 times for 3,622 yards and 21 touchdowns. And, oh yeah, he also caught 82 passes for 955 yards and eight scores, and added another 1,613 yards and two touchdowns via the return game.

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Much like Monta Ellis, he have it all.

And don’t call him a running back who catches passes, either. He’s a running back-wide receiver hybrid, thanks to sharp route running and soft hands.

“Something I really pride myself on is not just being a running back that can catch the ball, but if I move out to the slot, I become a receiver,” McCaffrey said. “If I move out to X or Z, I become a receiver and not just a running back. I really try to pride myself on route-running, catching and being able to be a mismatch anywhere on the field.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how McCaffrey gets the ball. As long as he gets it in space, he’s incredibly dangerous, as his change-of-direction skills, lightning-quick jump cuts, and excellent vision makes tackling him akin to tackling an eel.

There are a lot of different comparisons that get thrown around, but from a fantasy perspective look for him to make an impact similar to that of Dion Lewis the last two years–only with likely more volume.


Weaknesses

Running backs have short shelf lives, and McCaffrey enters the NFL with a whopping 821 collegiate touches under his belt. For perspective, Dalvin Cook has 766, while Leonard Fournette has 681.

He already battled some injuries during the 2016 season, and when you combine his already heavy workload with his size (5-foot-11, 202 pounds), many wonder how he’ll hold up for the long term.

That’s ultimately a small nitpick, though, and when it comes to his 2017 fantasy value, it’s certainly not a reason to downgrade him.


Projection

Even if Jonathan Stewart remains the starting running back, the Panthers will find ways to get McCaffrey a ton of touches per game. Whether he’s splitting carries with Stewart, catching passes out of the backfield, lining up in the slot or returning kicks, the electric dynamo will put up numbers.

2017 Stat Projections: 190 carries, 775 rushing yards, 65 receptions, 500 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns