Before Christian McCaffrey took the field for the sixth chapter of his league-dominating season, the Carolina Panthers’ star running back took advantage of his time in London and met a star from one his favorite TV shows in Sunday’s pregame.
McCaffrey chatted and traded handshakes with actor Finn Cole, who portrays Michael Gray in Netflix’s “Peaky Blinders.” The popular television show recently premiered its fifth season on the streaming service, continuing the critically-praised story of a fictional crime family and their exploits in post-World War I England.
Cole is also known for his role in the TNT original series “Animal Kingdom” and is among the cast for the in-production “Fast and Furious 9” slated for 2020 release.
While not the type of violence McCaffrey channels on the football field, he is a physical force to be reckoned with coming into Week 6’s overseas matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With star quarterback Cam Newton injured, the Panthers have leaned on McCaffrey for 105 carries through the first five games, resulting in him racking up the most rushing yards (587) and tying for second-most rushing touchdowns (six) in the NFL.
McCaffrey is Having an MVP-Worthy Start
The Panthers are on a three-game winning streak after coming up 0-2 to start the season with home losses to the Los Angeles Rams and the Bucs. Kyle Allen has done a respectable job in his three games since jumping in for Newton, who is still expected to miss a few weeks.
But nobody is fooling themselves. McCaffrey has done a lot of the heavy lifting with downhill running and breakaway speed that has shredded three of five opponents for at least 100 yards. He was stuffed for just 37 yards in his first game against the Bucs but figures to have more momentum this time coming off of a 176-yard, two-touchdown thrashing against Jacksonville.
Some worries cropped up when McCaffrey earlier in the week missed practice with a back issue after landing on it flipping into the end zone during Week 5’s 34-27 win. He was cleared, though, from the final report and was warming up without sign of worry in London.
Fantasy Football Implications
Owners who were worried about McCaffrey’s status likely felt the nerves drain from their bodies when the powerhouse rusher was cleared for action. That’s good news for anyone who bid high enough, or drew lucky enough, to grace their roster with McCaffrey this season. After all, his 866 yards from scrimmage are more than Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley combined (816), according to SportsCenter.
Of course, this news also impacts anyone who took a chance picking up Reggie Bonnafon on the waiver wires this week as a handcuff for McCaffrey. He is the definite No. 2 for the Panthers, but that doesn’t matter much where McCaffrey is considered. Bonnafon has just seven rushes of the team’s 128 total attempts with 85 yards and a touchdown.
Don’t unload Bonnafon just yet, though, as a jet-lagged, dinged-up McCaffrey could always run into trouble against the Bucs in London. The second-year pro is seeing the first action of his career in 2019 and flashed some potential with a 59-yard run last week. Panthers coach Ron Rivera has also stated the plan is to continue getting him more touches.
Sunday’s game could showcase a little more of what Bonnafon has to offer.