Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Christian McCaffrey did some incredible things in 2018 despite his smaller stature. I believe with the opportunity he has with being one of the focal points in the Panthers offense, McCaffrey can have just as good a season as he did last year if not better. I have even said that McCaffrey could be a Top 3 running back selection heading into the 2019 Fantasy Football Draft. Some have offered disbelief in my notion and that's fine, but I like to walk it like I talk it too.
While some folks that I've talked to, whether its friends in fantasy leagues I'm apart of or followers on Twitter, believe that McCaffrey's breakout season last year is just a fluke and that he won't be able to do it again. Not so fast.
If you look at the Panthers team, you can see that the potential is there for Christian McCaffrey to have a repeat performance of last seasons numbers, if not even better than last year.
I've had some tell me that they needed to see more from CMC... or that he's just a good pass catching running back and that he's not going to be better than Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley. Now to be fair, those two guys look like generational talents. They also get more rushing opportunities in their respective offenses. Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley rank 1st (304) and 2nd (261) in the league in rushing attempts. Christian McCaffrey comes in ranking 4th (219).
McCaffrey is also a good runner when it comes to going to work on the ground. McCaffrey actually finished the season averaging 5 yards per carry.
Christian McCaffrey was an excellent weapon in fantasy football last season. McCaffrey finished as the #2 running back in PPR last season, just a hair under Saquon Barkley (385.8 to 385.5 ppr points). McCaffrey finished the season with 1,098 yards rushing with 7 touchdowns and 869 yards through the air with 6 touchdowns. So his usage in the rushing game, as well as a dynamic piece in the passing game, makes McCaffrey a prime dual threat for either standard or PPR formats.
Going back to my earlier point about the team, while the Panthers did bring back Cameron Artis-Payne and drafted Jordan Scarlett with their fifth-round pick, let's be serious, those guys are only going to give CMC a breather every now and then during games. There's no real back behind McCaffrey to take snaps away and the only goal-line vulture he may have to contend with is Cam Newton. Newton snagged 4 touchdowns from McCaffrey last year. If McCaffrey gets those 4, your looking at 17 total touchdowns and his numbers would be better than Saquon Barkley.
Considering how little Cam Newton was used in the red zone though, it stands to believe that the Panthers brass doesn't want Newton putting his body on the line like he has in the past, but would rather funnel those touches into Christian McCaffrey. With no threat of a back behind him to steal carries and the opportunity to be even more of an asset in both the ground and passing game after proving himself last year, McCaffrey has a major chance to improve on his numbers from last season.
McCaffrey even bulked up this offseason to prepare himself for an even bigger role in the Panthers rushing attack for the 2019 season. Outside of him getting hurt, is there really anything to stop his production this year?
The Panthers rushing workload is basically up for him to do with what he wants. Last season, McCaffrey played 94.5% of the snaps amongst running backs for the Panthers (this number also reflects targets out of the backfield), which ranks 1st in the league among running backs. Also, McCaffrey's 124 targets were the most by a running back in the NFL (1st).
By comparison, the top 5 running back targets are as follows:
1. Christian McCaffrey - 124
2. James White - 123
3. Saquon Barkley - 121
4. Alvin Kamara - 105
5. Ezekiel Elliott - 95
Combine this info with the 60 touches he had in the redzone last season which ranks 4th among running backs in 2018, Christian McCafffrey looks to show the world why the Panthers won't need anyone else in the backfield to run the ball but him.