Player Outlook
The case for taking McCaffrey as soon as No. 1 overall starts here: He's hit at least 15 PPR points in 80.9% of his games over the past four seasons (4 of 7 games in 2021), and at least 20 PPR points in 73.8% of his games in the same span (also 4 of 7 games in 2021). Running backs with that kind of consistent Fantasy upside are very difficult to find. The case against CMC is pretty obvious: He's missed 23 out of a possible 33 games, not including two games he left early, due to five separate injuries over the past two seasons. The Panthers have obviously recognized this and seem open to lowering McCaffrey's exposure this season, but perhaps not to a point where he's significantly splitting high-value opportunities. A potentially muddled depth chart behind him and a tough projected schedule doesn't help, though that would impact Carolina's backups -- D'Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard -- much more than McCaffrey. Here's the bottom line: Those with fearless conviction will take McCaffrey if they get the chance, those who confidently opt for safety in Round 1 won't choose him, and those who can't pass up an opportunity on a league-winner will figure out where the stud-when-healthy running back fits in among the other elite-tier players. Our consensus? If he's available at fifth overall or later in PPR (sixth in non-PPR), he's worth the risk.

Fantasy Stats

rushing receiving fantasy
Year yds
Rushing Yards
avg
Average Yards per Rush
td
Rushing Touchdowns
fl
Fumbles Lost
rec
Receptions
yds
Receiving Yards
td
Receiving Touchdowns
fpts
Fantasy Points
fpts/g
Fantasy Points per Game
2022
2021 442 4.46 1 37 343 1 9012.9
2020 225 3.81 5 17 149 1 7224
3y Avg. 685 4.63 7 57 499 2 17119
Projections Powered by
Fantasy Performance by Week
44%
Roster
11%
Start
#5
RB Rank

Fantasy News

  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Normal preseason routine

    Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he doesn't expect any changes to McCaffrey's preseason routine, David Newton of ESPN.com reports. The 26-year-old running back missed 13 games in 2020 and 10 more in 2021, after starting his career with three consecutive 16-game seasons, including a legendary 2019 in which he outscored every other player by at least 55 PPR points (and every RB by at least 155). That upside has McCaffrey going top 5 in fantasy leagues this summer, even with the injury concerns and Carolina's shaky situation at quarterback, where Baker Mayfield will challenge Sam Darnold for the starting job. McCaffrey hasn't touched the ball in a preseason game since 2019 and has stayed healthy throughout training camp each year, with all his injuries instead occurring during regular-season action (always a risk when handling so many snaps and touches). The good news is that he didn't have to rehab from surgery this offseason, and it seems he's been healthy since the spring (or even earlier) after ending 2021 on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. The Panthers signed D'Onta Foreman to compete with Chuba Hubbard for the backup RB job, but neither figures to see many carries behind McCaffrey when the Panthers host the Browns in their regular-season opener Sunday, Sept. 11.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Looks good at OTAs

    McCaffrey (ankle) looked good while participating in the Panthers' OTAs on Tuesday, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports. McCaffrey continues to avoid setbacks this offseason after dealing with various injuries during the 2021 campaign. The 2017 first-round pick has only played in 10 games over the past two seasons after not missing a contest over his first three years in the NFL. McCaffrey appears to be healthy heading into the 2022 campaign, and the Panthers intend to keep it that way by holding him out of preseason games again and possibly taking a different approach with him during practices, per Joe Person of The Athletic.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Participating in offseason program

    McCaffrey (ankle) is participating in offseason workouts. It's another hint McCaffrey didn't have too much trouble this offseason with any of the various injuries that impacted his 2021 campaign. He played only 10 games over the past two years, but he does seem to be in good health at the moment, and he averaged 112.1 total yards and 5.4 catches per game last season despite exiting early with injuries in two of his seven appearances. Apart from health, the biggest concern for McCaffrey is poor QB play, as the Panthers still are in the process of trying to upgrade on Sam Darnold.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Restructures deal with Carolina

    McCaffrey (ankle) restructured his contract with the Panthers on Tuesday, opening up about $5.5 million in salary cap space for 2022, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. The Panthers wanted to free up some cap space to maintain their flexibility for the offseason, and McCaffrey's contract was a natural candidate for a restructure. The 25-year-old is coming off his second consecutive injury-riddled season, as he was limited to seven games in 2021 by hamstring and ankle injuries and totaled 99 carries for 442 yards plus 37 receptions for 343 yards, with only two total touchdowns.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Expected to remain with Panthers

    Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he "fully expects" McCaffrey (ankle) to remain with the Panthers for the 2022 season, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports. McCaffrey topped 400 touches during the 2019 campaign but has missed extended time in each of the last two seasons due to injuries. He appeared in 10 games across the last two years and rushed 158 times for 667 yards and six touchdowns while catching 54 of 60 targets for 492 yards and two touchdowns during that time. The 25-year-old has been mentioned in trade rumors recently, but it appears as though the Panthers are committed to bringing back their star running back in 2022.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Shifts from COVID-19 list to IR

    The Panthers removed McCaffrey (ankle) from the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aaron Wilson of Sportstalk 790 Houston reports. McCaffrey already was ruled out for the season with the sprained left ankle, but he'll head back to injured reserve following a positive test for the virus last Tuesday. Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah will continue to split the Panthers' backfield reps for the rest of the campaign. According to Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer, McCaffrey won't need surgery to address the ankle injury, so he should be ready to go for OTAs after a few months of rest and rehab.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Moves from IR to COVID-19 list

    McCaffrey (ankle) was shifted from injured reserve to the reserve/COVID-19 list after the running back tested positive for the virus Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. McCaffrey's season is over due to his second stint on IR, the result of an ankle issue, but he'll now stay away from the Panthers' facilities until he clears the league's COVID-19 protocols. In the meantime, the team will continue to roll with Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah out of the backfield.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Ruled out for season

    McCaffrey (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Monday and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. McCaffrey was unable to play in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Dolphins due to his ankle injury, and he'll be forced to miss the final five weeks of the regular season following an MRI on Monday. The 25-year-old was also sidelined for five weeks earlier in the regular season due to a hamstring injury, and he'll finish another injury-shortened season with 99 carries for 442 yards and a touchdown while hauling in 37 of 41 targets for 343 yards and a touchdown across seven appearances. Chuba Hubbard is in line for a starting role for the remainder of the 2021 campaign.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: X-rays negative

    Initial X-rays on McCaffrey's injured ankle came back negative, David Newton of ESPN.com reports. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that McCaffrey "rolled" his ankle and likely avoided a major injury, though the star running back missed the entire second half of Sunday's loss to the Dolphins (after briefly attempting a return in the second quarter). With Carolina on bye in Week 13, the early reports suggest McCaffrey at least has some shot at avoiding an absence.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Wearing walking boot postgame

    McCaffrey rolled his left ankle in Sunday's 33-10 loss to the Dolphins, according to Joe Person of The Athletic, and per Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, he was spotted wearing a walking boot after the game. McCaffrey injured his ankle in the first half of Sunday's contest and briefly re-entered the game, but he wound up taking his final carry of the day with just over four minutes to go in the second quarter. It was said during the game that he available to return, but head coach Matt Rhule said McCaffrey "just wasn't at the same level," and his booted foot confirms that. The extent of McCaffrey's injury is not yet known, but the Panthers are on bye next week, so he'll have an extra week to recover. Chuba Hubbard will be the next man up if McCaffrey winds up missing any further time.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Scores in close loss

    McCaffrey rushed 10 times for 59 yards and caught seven of eight targets for 60 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 27-21 loss to Washington. McCaffrey tied the game with a leaping, 27-yard touchdown grab to begin the fourth quarter, his first score since Week 2. The tailback has hauled in at least seven passes in both of his outings since returning from injury, again leading the Panthers through the air Sunday. Although quarterback Cam Newton tied McCaffrey with 10 carries, going for 46 yards and a touchdown, McCaffrey still was efficient with his workload, making for another strong all-around showing. Next up for McCaffrey is a favorable matchup against the Dolphins in Week 12.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Produces despite second-half inactivity

    McCaffrey rushed 13 times for 95 yards and caught all 10 of his targets for 66 yards in Sunday's 34-10 win over the Cardinals. McCaffrey got it rolling early, consistently gashing Arizona in the running game. He also led Carolina with seven first-half catches, racking up nearly 130 scrimmage yards by halftime. However, to begin the third quarter, McCaffrey made a brief visit to the Panthers' medical tent and totaled just six touches during the second half. Although the Panthers' comfortable lead may have contributed toward McCaffrey watching the late-game action, the tailback was concerningly seen working on his right hamstring while sidelined, Will Kunkel of FOX Charlotte reports. Despite his low second-half usage, McCaffrey still almost out-gained the Cardinals by himself, making for a productive showing overall. However, considering he just returned last week after missing five games due to a hamstring injury, any reoccurrence would certainly be a worrisome development. As a result, his status should be closely tracked in the coming days. Should McCaffrey be limited at all going forward, Chuba Hubbard would figure to benefit once again, with veteran Ameer Abdullah the next tailback on the depth chart.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Tops 100 scrimmage yards in return

    McCaffrey rushed 14 times for 52 yards and caught four of five targets for 54 yards in Sunday's 24-6 loss to the Patriots. McCaffrey, making his first appearance since straining his hamstring in Week 3, contributed most as a receiver with the Panthers trailing in the second half. With consecutive catches of 21, 19 and 17 yards on the same drive, McCaffrey surpassed 100 scrimmage yards in his return to action, compensating for a modest outing on the ground. Although Carolina kept backups Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah involved, combining for 66 yards on their nine touches, McCaffrey was comfortably his team's most productive offensive player, leading Carolina in receiving despite quarterback Sam Darnold's recent struggles persisting. As coordinator Joe Brady desperately hopes to improve his unit, look for McCaffrey to garner another healthy workload in Week 10 versus the Cardinals.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Off IR, but Sunday status TBD

    Though McCaffrey (hamstring) has been activated off IR by the Panthers, he'll be evaluated by the team's staff Sunday morning to determine his Week 9 status, ESPN's David Newton reports. Assuming no pre-game setbacks, McCaffrey thus has a chance to return from his five-game absence, but in the event that he does play, Newton suggests that the star running back would likely be on some sort of a snap count, with Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman and Ameer Abdullah also candidates to mix in. Either way, McCaffrey's availability will be clarified prior to the first wave of games Sunday, with the Panthers kicking off against the Patriots at 1:00 ET.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Week 9 status still undecided

    McCaffrey (hamstring) was reinstated from injured reserve Saturday, but he'll be evaluated by the team's staff early Sunday before his status is determined ahead of the Panthers' 1 p.m. ET kickoff against the Patriots, David Newton of ESPN.com reports. Assuming he experiences no pregame setbacks, McCaffrey should be in line to return from his five-game absence. In the event that McCaffrey does play, however, Newton suggests that the star running back would likely be on some sort of a snap count, with Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman and Ameer Abdullah also candidates to mix in. Either way, McCaffrey's availability will be clarified no later than 90 minutes prior to Sunday's kickoff, when Carolina releases its inactive list.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Comes off IR

    McCaffrey (hamstring) was activated off injured reserve Saturday and will be eligible to play Sunday against the Patriots. The Panthers had remained hopeful throughout the week McCaffrey would make his long-awaited return to the active roster, so this is obviously fantastic news and removes any ambiguity regarding his status moving forward. It's unclear if the star running back will immediately get his full workload, especially considering coach Matt Rhule was uncertain McCaffrey would even be available for Sunday's matchup. Backup Chuba Hubbard has put together an admirable performance in place of the multi-talented McCaffrey over the last five weeks, to the point where it's possible a more defined workload split could emerge in subsequent games.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Week 9 status to be decided Saturday

    Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said McCaffrey (hamstring) will be re-evaluated Saturday before a determination is made whether the running back is reinstated from injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Patriots, Joe Person of The Athletic reports. Rhule noted that he's "hopeful" McCaffrey will play this week, after the running back returned to practice Wednesday and was on the field for each of the last three days. Because McCaffrey isn't officially a member of the 53-man roster, the Panthers don't have to disclose the extent of his involvement in practice, though Rhule told the media that the 25-year-old was a limited participant Wednesday. Fantasy managers for both McCaffrey and his primary replacement the past five weeks -- rookie Chuba Hubbard -- should have more clarity on what Carolina's Week 9 backfield will look like by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, the deadline for the Panthers to add McCaffrey back to the roster in order for him to be eligible to play Sunday.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Deemed 'limited' in practice return

    Carolina head coach Matt Rhule classified McCaffrey (hamstring) as a limited participant at Wednesday's practice, David Newton of ESPN.com reports. "I would probably say he was pretty limited, not a ton of plays," Rhule said, when asked about the extent of McCaffrey's activity. "Just trying to begin the process of working him back. We'll see how he looks [Thursday] in terms of this weekend and his availability. See how he responds to this, but no setbacks." The Panthers officially designated McCaffrey for a return from injured reserve Wednesday, but because he hasn't been activated to the 53-man roster, the team doesn't have to include him on its Week 9 injury report. Rhule at least helped give fantasy managers an idea of where McCaffrey stands in his recovery by labeling him as a limited participant in his first practice since aggravating the injury in a Week 6 workout, after he initially tweaked his hamstring in the team's Week 3 win over the Texans. Carolina isn't ruling McCaffrey out from putting an end to his five-game absence Sunday against New England, but the star running back presumably will need to increase his practice activity the next two days to have a realistic shot at making that a reality. McCaffrey's return to practice Wednesday opened a 21-day window for Carolina to either bring him back from IR or shut him down for the remainder of the season.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Back practicing Wednesday

    Carolina designated McCaffrey (hamstring) to return from injured reserve Wednesday, Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site reports. As a result, the Panthers have a 21-day window in which to activate McCaffrey or leave him on IR. Assuming McCaffrey experiences no setbacks in practice the next three days, the Panthers could have the star running back available Sunday against the Patriots, but Carolina won't have to officially activate him until Saturday if they intend to have him play this week. Chuba Hubbard has been filling in as the team's lead back in McCaffrey's absence, but he would presumably move into a complementary role in the event that McCaffrey is cleared for the Week 9 matchup.
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  • Panthers' Christian McCaffrey: Plans to practice Wednesday

    Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he expects McCaffrey (hamstring) to practice Wednesday, Joe Person of The Athletic reports. "Hopefully we can get [McCaffrey] back soon," Rhule said. "If it's not this week, hopefully it will be next week." If McCaffrey is indeed able to log at least a limited session Wednesday, it will represent a notable step in the right direction. The star running back still has yet to officially be designated for a return from IR, and he's now missed five straight games due to his strained hamstring. Wednesday's first official practice report of the week stands to bring a more substantial update on McCaffrey's recovery progress.
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