I finish off the running back profiles with Mr. Does-It-All himself: Christian McCaffrey. While the two letters before the name say running back—and that’ll most likely be the position that McCaffrey plays in the NFL—McCaffrey really is an all-around offensive weapon.
While he’s not built like an every-down back (more on that later), McCaffrey still had plenty of success running the football at Stanford. He’s elusive in the hole, reads his blocks well and takes what is given to him. But it’s what else he can do for your team that has McCaffrey rocketing up draft boards.
The reason I clarified that McCaffrey will likely be a running back in the NFL is because he could just as easily be a slot receiver at the next level. He has strong route running, terrific hands and is a natural pass catcher. He can line up out of the backfield, in the slot or even on the outside. He’s also explosive in the kick and punt return game, totaling 1,614 total return yards the last two years. McCaffrey can affect an offense on all four downs which is rare to find in one player.
Of course McCaffrey has his flaws, primarily his body type. Many NFL scouts are worried about how his frame—5-foot-11, 202 pounds—will translate to the NFL as an every-down back. Running backs that he’s body type directly compares to—i.e. backs like Reggie Bush & C.J. Spiller—while successful, haven’t boasted the best health record. It’ll be interesting to see how a team that drafts McCaffrey views him: Is he an every-down back or an offensive weapon that you script into the game plan?
This uncertainty as to his role in the NFL makes his fantasy stock a little less valuable than that of Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette. That’s not to say that McCaffrey can’t be a fantasy star, especially in PPR leagues. Depending on where he lands, I see McCaffrey as a flex player entering the league.
McCaffrey’s College Stats
Best Fantasy Fits
- Philadelphia Eagles: Hey you know that small running back in Philly who’s getting older but also still producing at a high-level? What if the Eagles just drafted his replacement and fit him right into that role? Who says no! The McCaffrey-Darren Sproles switch would be a seamless transition for Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense as both backs do a little of everything. And that “little of everything” is what has made Sproles a great flex option, particularly in PPR leagues, over the best two seasons. This past year he finished 24th in total points among running backs (in PPR) with 162.5 averaging 10.8 points per game.
- Detroit Lions: Really, a talent like McCaffrey in today’s pass happy NFL could be used anywhere, but Detroit makes a bunch of sense simply because of the offense old Jim Bob Cooter has installed. Their running attack, a hybrid of zone and gap running, fits McCaffrey like a glove and clearly the Lions love their pass catching backs. Theo Riddick only managed to stay healthy for 10 games this past season, but finished the season averaging 16.2 PPG in PPR leagues, good for 8th among running backs. McCaffrey offers more as a runner than Riddick and would certainly see more of the workload in Detroit.
- Green Bay Packers: THIS is what everyone should be hoping for. While I highly doubt McCaffrey in the real draft makes it all the way down to 29 overall, pairing McCaffrey with Aaron Rodgers is almost too dreamy. Do you like Ty Montgomery? Well, how bout an even BETTER Ty Montgomery! (Fun fact: Ty also went to Stanford.) Letting the Packers build an offense around the skill set of McCaffrey is like letting Professor Farnsworth hoard all the world’s Doomsday devices: It isn’t fair and it will at some point destroy everything in it’s path. McCaffrey would give yet another offensive weapon to an already potent offense and with Rodgers at the helm, there’s no telling what kind of production the rookie back could have.