Christian Jackson McCaffrey was born in Castle Rock, Colorado, in 1996, and he will be 24-years old this season. McCaffrey’s parents played sports at Stanford. His mother was a soccer star, and his father was a wide receiver who also played in the NFL (Ed McCaffrey).
In high school, McCaffrey played running back, wide receiver, and on special teams as a punter. He also played basketball. Many high school records fell, including setting records in total career touchdowns (141), career touchdown receptions (47), career all-purpose yards (8,845), and single-season all-purpose yards (3,032). He won the Gatorade Football Player of the Year for Colorado in both 2012 and 2013. He was a beast from the beginning.
While dominating football and playing basketball, Christian was also an elite sprinter on the track and field team, running the 100- and 200-meter dash. Rivals considered him a four-star recruit, and the third-best overall running back in his class when he committed to Stanford University.
As a true freshman (2014), McCaffrey did something rather uncommon - he played all in 13 games. McCaffrey broke out in his sophomore year, breaking Barry Sanders' NCAA record of 3,250 all-purpose yards as he finished with 3,864.
He also finished second in the nation with 2,019 rushing yards, and even breaking a single-game All-Purpose yards record with 461. That season he was a consensus All-American, the AP college football player of the year, and finished second to Alabama’s Derrick Henry in the 2015 Heisman Trophy voting.
During his junior season (2016) at Stanford, McCaffrey led the nation in all-purpose yards with 211 per game. Unfortunately, he injured his hip in early October, which is the ONLY time he has gotten hurt in college or the NFL and he only missed one game!
McCaffrey decided to not play in his team’s bowl game, as he opted to prepare for the NFL Draft. His decision was initially perceived as selfish but eventually proved to be a smart decision.
McCaffrey is just over 5’11” and weighed over 200 pounds at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash and was chosen with the eighth overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. The only RB drafted ahead of him was Leonard Fournette, taken with the 4th pick.
McCaffrey has played in all 16 games in each of his three NFL seasons, rare and impressive for a RB. During his rookie season, he split time with Jonathan Stewart, but by season’s end, he wound up catching 80 passes and five touchdowns, also rushing 117 times for 434 yards and two more scores. The emergence of Christian McCaffrey as a versatile running back in the NFL was beginning to become apparent.
In 2018, McCaffrey posted impressive numbers, finishing the season with almost 1,100 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, adding 107 receptions for 867 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also totaled 1,965 all-purpose yards, and it propelled him to an early fantasy football first-round draft status for the 2019 season.
What McCaffrey did in 2019 was simply unbelievable. How McCaffrey treated NFL defenses, you would see as a character on Madden with the AI set to zero. He accumulated yards in bunches and posted incredible numbers that are going to be very difficult to repeat.
McCaffrey accounted for 43% of the team’s total offensive yards, which is the largest percentage of an individual player in NFL history. McCaffrey ran for 1,387 yards, received 1,005 yards, and accounted for 19 touchdowns. He was easily the number one fantasy player on the season. He outscored the second running back (Aaron Jones) by more than 200 fantasy points depending on league/settings, as Jones averaged 19.7 PPG and McCaffrey 29.5 PPG.
He became only the third player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards as well as receive for over 1,000 yards in a season (1,000/1,000), joining Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig.
The Carolina Panthers made McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in the NFL at season's end, signing him to a four-year $64 million contract.
With the 2020 season approaching, McCaffrey will have a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater in the new Matt Rhule RPO offensive system. He will be an upgrade over Kyle Allen. The good news is that defenses won't just key on McCaffrey, the bad news is that the volume will decrease.
Even with a better QB in charge, McCaffrey is the center of the offense devised by Rhule’s offensive coordinator at LSU in Joe Brady. The RPO in Louisiana was a running back focal point, and it won't change in Carolina. Not only did LSU run the ball nearly 25 times a game, but they also used the running backs as receivers for approximately 20% of the total targets. According to CBS Sports, the LSU offense threw more to the running backs than tight ends.
Look for several dump-offs from Bridgewater. Not only because the offensive system revolves around it, but because he doesn’t have the superior arm strength, and watch for McCaffrey to line-up in various formations to take advantage of defense alignments.
The downside of the offense is their offensive line. It's mid-grade at best and rebuilt by Matt Rhule. Russell Okung will replace Trai Turner, who is a downgrade. John Miller will replace Greg Van Roten (NYJ) and Michael Schofield will start. Matt Paradis needs to play better. Paradis allowed 47 quarterback pressures last season, which is a position high.
The Panthers have added Robby Anderson from the Jets, with D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel returning. Tight end Ian Thomas will come into the spotlight and will have a role in the RPO offense. The draft yielded no results on the offensive side. Their entire focus was on the defense.
Let’s talk about Christian McCaffrey’s injuries, there have not been many, as he has missed a total of ONE GAME. The only injury that I could find stemmed from a hip strain in college, which would cost someone several games, but only cost McCaffrey one.
Despite the massive volume, and having defenses keying on him consistently, McCaffrey has been able to stay impressively healthy. When you account for over 40% of your teams’ touches and accumulate over 2,400 yards of offense, you are definitely at an increased risk.
Although I (Dr. Morse) do not believe this volume is sustainable long-term, McCaffrey could be one of those rare genetic beasts of health, like Adrian Peterson, who seems to continue to defy odds.
Sports Injury Predictor believes that McCaffrey has a 46.4% chance of missing at least 0.5 games (2 quarters) in 2020, which is an impressive score considering his workload.
The 2020 outlook for McCaffrey is intriguing. How can he improve on last year’s numbers is a question he has answered since the conclusion of his rookie year. Remarkably, he can still improve. More yards are available to him as well as rushing touchdowns.
While there’s a chance McCaffrey may suffer a freak injury, it is evident that he takes care of his body and avoids the hits that may injure others. McCaffrey is the number one pick and should be chosen there without hesitation.
McCaffrey seems to have separated himself and belongs in his separate tier. Even 80% of his 2019 season would be an incredible return on investment.
As long as he can stay healthy, which he has been able to in the past, McCaffrey should finish as a top-five running back, despite some new additions to the Panthers offense.
Injury Risk: Low. 2/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Oct 8, 2016||Inguinal Hip Pull||McCaffrey missed 1 game (vs. Notre Dame).|