Last year, I had my doubts when Christian McCaffrey was drafted No. 1 overall by one of the fantasy football owners in my league. Drafting behind him in the fifth spot, I was delighted to get Ezekiel Elliott. I thought I had the better back.
Then McCaffrey rushed for 1,387 yards to go along with his 1,005 passing yards on 116 receptions. In doing so, he became only the third player in NFL history to have over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I lost to said owner who drafted McCaffrey in the semifinals last year. I thought I had a better team overall, but I couldn’t overcome what McCaffrey brought to the field on that Sunday.
For the season, McCaffrey outscored the next-closest running back by 156 fantasy points. While regression is likely in 2020, he can afford it and still easily pace the position. When September arrives, McCaffrey will be drafted No. 1 again.
It wasn’t just fantasy players who sat up and noticed McCaffrey’s accomplishments. The Panthers rewarded their superstar back with a four-year deal worth $64 million. That surpassed what the Cowboys gave Elliott last fall.
Other NFL running backs are also taking notice. New Orleans Saints star back Alvin Kamara laughed when he heard the news about McCaffrey while playing Call of Duty on a stream. Kamara will be a free agent next year.
The Panthers are laughing, too. And everyone in the state of Carolina. But no one’s laughing any harder than McCaffrey, unless it’s the fantasy owner that heard me laugh at him that night last September when we did our draft.