If you had Christian McCaffrey on your fantasy football team last year, you probably won your league as he was a monster. Here are McCaffrey’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
McCaffrey was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft by Carolina out of Stanford. As a sophomore there, he broke Barry Sanders’s NCAA record of 3,250 all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864. McCaffrey finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Alabama’s Derrick Henry.
In his first pro season, McCaffrey was the first rookie running back in NFL history with at least 70 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. He set Panthers rookie single-season records in 2017 for most receptions (80), scrimmage yards (1,086), yards after catch (593) and first downs (57) by any player.
The next year in 2018, he was the first player in NFL history with 50 rushing and 50 receiving yards in five consecutive games (Weeks 9-13, 2018). On Dec. 17, 2018 vs. New Orleans, McCaffrey became the second player in NFL history with 50 yards rushing, receiving and passing in same game.
Last season, McCaffrey finished with 1,387 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns to go along with 116 receptions for 1,005 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. He became only the third player in NFL history to total 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a season, joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999) on the exclusive list. Neither Faulk nor Craig were able to accomplish the record again in their careers.
McCaffrey’s 116 catches were an NFL record for a running back and he was the first tailback in league history to have two 100-catch seasons. McCaffrey broke his own previous record of 107 catches, which was the previous most by a running back in a year, set in 2018. McCaffrey was named to the Pro Bowl and finished third in Offensive Player of the Year voting.
McCaffrey didn’t just dominate his position last season. He delivered the most fantasy points from a running back since LaDainian Tomlinson set the NFL touchdown record in 2006.
McCaffrey holds franchise record for most scrimmage yards by any player in first three seasons as a Panther (5,443), has the most career receiving yards (2,523), receptions (303), receiving touchdowns (15), and receiving first downs (135) by a running back in franchise history and his 2,392 scrimmage yards last year were the most by any player in one season.
This offseason, the Panthers gave him a big extension with $30.1 million guaranteed over the four-year deal. Another $8.1 million becomes guaranteed next March, meaning for all intents and purposes CMC is guaranteed $38.2 million. The deal is worth $16 million per year, making McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in NFL history.
Could McCaffrey take a step back in 2020, however? New Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he wanted to avoid having McCaffrey on the field for every snap. Rhule believes “effectively using McCaffrey as a weapon does not mean leaving him on the field the entire game.” McCaffrey played 1,039 snaps last season, which is practically unheard of in this day and age. It was 102 more than runner up Ezekiel Elliott. CMC also led running backs in snaps by a wide margin in 2018.
It’s only natural that McCaffrey will touch the ball less in 2020. Since 2010, only two other players have had more touches in a single season than he did last year (DeMarco Murray in 2014 — 449 and Le’Veon Bell in 2017 — 406). New Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady has said that the team wants to get creative with the First Team All-Pro, acknowledging that his skills go beyond those of a normal running back.
“On third down, he doesn’t have to come out,” running backs coach Jeff Nixon said. “He can stay in, and he’ll be able to protect Teddy (Bridgewater), and obviously, catch the ball out of the backfield.”
Despite the new offense, McCaffrey’s role isn’t expected to be all that much different. He’ll run the ball out of the backfield. He’ll line up outside and run routes as a receiver. He’ll have to protect the quarterback in known-passing situations.
Carolina is a 1.5-point underdog for Week 1 vs. the Raiders.