2017 Rookie Profile: Christian McCaffrey (Fantasy Football)
For the first three installments of the “Rookie Profile” series, a microscope was placed under Leonard Fournette , Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara in order to reveal their fantasy appeal for 2017. This time around, all attention will shift to Christian McCaffrey. The running back out of Stanford is an incredible athlete, but is viewed as a polarizing prospect. Will he be able to make a seamless transition from college to the NFL? In order to find out, let’s take an in-depth look at the tailback’s pedigree.
NFL Scouting Combine Overview[lptw_table id=”38215″ style=”default”]
As evident from the metrics listed above, McCaffrey excelled in virtually all drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. As a matter of fact, his times of 6.57 seconds in the 3 cone drill and 11.03 seconds in the 60 yard shuttle represented the best scores among all running backs. McCaffrey also dominated in the vertical jump with a 37.5 inch total, which tied for second at his position. To put an exclamation point on an already impressive display of athleticism, his forty time of 4.48 seconds and 20 yard shuttle score of 4.22 seconds each ranked fourth among all tailbacks.
Based on his collective numbers, McCaffrey was a clear winner in Indianapolis. Critics will continue to question his ability to serve as a featured back at the next level, but few can debate the Stanford product’s versatility out of the backfield. Player metrics are merely one component of an individual’s draft stock, but it’s safe to assert that McCaffrey checks nearly all of the boxes required to succeed in the NFL.
Collegiate Production[lptw_table id=”38216″ style=”default”]
Unlike Fournette and Cook, it took time for McCaffrey to emerge as an elite prospect. As a freshman in 2014, he was primarily designated to duties on special teams. That season, McCaffrey registered a career-high 154 yards off of punt returns. He failed to make a large impact on offense, but did manage to accrue 551 yards from scrimmage on merely 59 touches.
In 2015, McCaffrey exploded onto the scene with an NCAA record 3,864 all-purpose yards. His sophomore campaign was led by 2,019 rushing yards, as well as 45 receptions for 645 yards. Remarkably, the agile running back also manufactured 1,070 yards in the form of kickoff returns.
Even though McCaffrey’s rushing and receiving totals regressed in 2016, he did record a career-best thirteen rushing touchdowns in the process. The 20-year-old tailback also rushed for a minimum of 100 yards in all but three regular season games. Even more, in two of those contests he posted rushing totals of 284 yards and 204 yards against California and Rice, respectively. McCaffrey also earned at least one reception in every single game he was active for in his collegiate career, which speaks volumes to his level of consistency.
An overlooked quality working in McCaffrey’s favor is durability, as he was only forced to miss two regular season contests over his entire career at Stanford. This, coupled with his proven ability to fill a role on all dimensions of the field could elevate his real-life and fantasy value ahead of Fournette or Cook in certain NFL systems.
Regardless of his pedigree, there are those that will continue to label McCaffrey as a complementary piece to an NFL backfield. As a result of an uncertain workload, he is best viewed as an RB3 or Flex until further notice in redraft formats. On the other hand, McCaffrey has demonstrated that he can be the centerpiece of an offense if utilized properly based on his usage rate in college. The issue of an appealing landing spot is of utmost importance for McCaffrey’s 2017 fantasy value, as he appears to be an ideal fit for only a handful of franchises.
Despite his uncertain redraft value, McCaffrey can safely be viewed as a premier asset in dynasty formats due to his age and talent. He is currently behind Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Mike Williams and Corey Davis in ADP for rookie drafts. However, that order is fluid and should be considered subject to change until the NFL Draft concludes. Provided his versatile set of skills, McCaffrey very well could have an RB1 ceiling in PPR formats. Those participating in a startup draft should select him with confidence as an RB2 with upside, but need to hedge expectations in the event that the running back becomes a member of a committee to begin his professional career.
Based on talent alone, McCaffrey belongs in the conversation of being the first running back selected overall from the 2017 class this April. It remains to be seen if he will live up to the lineage of his father Ed McCaffrey, who won three Super Bowl championships as a wide receiver across thirteen seasons in the NFL. Regardless, the future is bright for one of the NCAA’s most prolific FBS rushers in recent history.
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