The Panthers’ first five offensive snaps in their second preseason game at Tennessee: Two turnovers and a three-and-out.
Call Christian McCaffrey to the rescue.
The rookie built upon a solid debut: Three carries for 33 yards and a TD and two receptions for 39 yards. That’s in one half of work.
His biggest gainer was a 38-yard reception. The Titans sent a linebacker blitz, while four receivers streaked down the field, leaving McCaffrey wide open at the line of scrimmage. And if you don’t get a hand on him immediately, watch out. He catches a full head of steam quickly and broke a big one.
Opposing defenses are going to struggle stifling the quick and shifty running back.
Whether it was rushes between the tackles or speeding past DBS down the sideline, McCaffrey should be on everyone’s fantasy radar. Sure, he’ll split carries with incumbent starter Jonathan Stewart, but the combination is reminiscent of Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
Back in 2009, they each racked up more than 1,100. Stewart was the pounder, while Williams flashed more speed a la McCaffrey.
But McCaffrey has the potential to eclipse both in terms of production.
When he’s got the ball, he looks like he’s playing the game at a different speed, with defenders trailing in slow motion.
He’ll also take pressure off Cam Newton who has shouldered the offensive burden.
The responsibility falls on OC Mike Shula to get the ball in McCaffrey’s hands as much as possible (hopefully 12-15 times a game).
Get him the ball in the backfield, in the flat, wherever you can. He’s got the capability to break the big one every time he touches the ball. That’s a much-needed trait for an offense that lumbers down the field.
J-Stew will be the starter, but I’d expect them to split touches more or less.
Stewart also has a history of injuries, missing three games in each of the last three seasons, meaning McCaffrey could be carrying the full load for stretches.
As such, I agree with The Wolf bumping McCaffrey up to RB12 and 27th overall. Even with just the 12-15 committee touches, McCaffrey has the talent to yield RB1-2 stats. On any games he’s the featured back, look out. He could be a week winner.