Hello everyone, and welcome to the start of my player analysis series (you can find MB’s first post here) where I take a look at a crap-ton of NFL players and sort them into three categories: Underrated, Overrated, and Sleepers. So let’s get started talking about a rookie player who I believe has the greatest chance of anyone this year to become a player that started with all hype, but might have little production on the field during his rookie campaign. I am of course talking about Christian McCaffrey. Let’s get right to it.
First off, let’s talk about one of my favorite things in fantasy football, ADP data. I understand that McCaffrey is a talented runner, but as a rookie running back in the NFL, he’s being drafted pretty early, as current numbers suggest that he’s going in the early 3rd round at 32nd overall, which is the 15th back off the board.
That’s pretty high for a rookie in my opinion, and is a huge risk considering he could be your first RB if you choose to go WR-WR or WR-Gronk. “But Zach”, you might ask, “What about Leonard Fournette, or even Joe Mixon?” Well, you make a good point, McCaffrey isn’t the only rookie running back being drafted early. But I feel better about Fournette and Mixon as runners in 2017. First off, it’s looking that Fournette will be the bellcow running back for Jacksonville. According to ESPN reporter Mike DiRocco, Fournette “will have every chance to surpass 1,000 yards during his rookie season”. Jacksonville has already tried the T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory experiments last year, and both did not work. It makes sense that they’d be willing to give Fournette a workload from Week 1, and from their drafting of Cam Robinson to improve their O-Line play. And for Joe Mixon in Cincinnati, the hype train just can’t stop. To say that everyone on the Bengals coaching staff loves him in an understatement. Although it isn’t a guarantee that he’ll start leading the team in touches from day one, the Bengals staff will give him every opportunity to do just that after being frustrated with the likes of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard during the past few seasons.
Obviously the Panthers like Christian McCaffrey. They drafted him for a reason. But to draft him with the idea that he’ll be leading the Panthers in carries, or even come close to a 50-50 split with Jonathan Stewart is ridiculous, and that is what is being done here. Over the offseason, the team extended Stewart’s contract through the 2018 season, doing so before the drafting of McCaffrey, showing that they at least had plans for him for another two years. About a week ago, Panthers beat writer Max Henson wrote that Stewart’s role in 2017 “will not change”, and that he will receive a bulk of the carries this season, just like he has in year’s past. In fact, if this report carries through into Training Camp in a few weeks and into the preseason, Stewart himself as a lead rusher comes at a pretty nice value with his current ADP sitting at 108th overall, which is the 41st back off the board (Carolina backs in general also have a pretty easy SOS for ’17 by the way). Now, I’m not saying that McCaffrey isn’t a bad football player. Chances are, he’s going to be Carolina’s passing downs back until he can prove himself otherwise. And McCaffrey will probably be great as a receiver.
But the big problem I have with him is that he’s being drafted like he’s a bell-cow runner who will play on all 3 downs, and that is simply not the case. I’d be happy if he had similar ADP like Bilal Powell or Danny Woodhead, but if he’s being drafted around guys like Isaiah Crowell, Leonard Fournette, and Lamar Miller, then it’s best that you stay away.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @razzball_zach.