Set for target hog and now bellcow duties in Norv Turner’s scheme, Christian McCaffrey’s Usage score and fantasy value increase dramatically with the team foregoing any RBs in the 2018 NFL Draft.
We already knew McCaffrey was going to see heavy passing game volume after leading the NFL in RB Targets as a rookie last year while finishing as the PPR RB10. Moreover, Norv Turner’s always funneled passing game looks to his RBs underneath, with backs accounting for 30.8% of Turner’s historic target share — right on par with Sean Payton‘s usage of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in 2018.
Yet, following the departure of Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers’ (shocking) avoidance of any RB help in the draft, McCaffrey now feels destined to shoulder an even heavier rushing workload than we would have anticipated, raising his fantasy ceiling to enormous heights.
As detailed by The Wolf in his previous Norv Turner breakdown, the veteran coach has historically ridden a workhorse, with six RBs have leading the league in rushing under him. Though not built like a 25+ carry back, McCaffrey seems destined for at least 15+ totes, in addition to 6-8 weekly targets, now contending with only Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne for looks.
This increased rushing volume should be enormous, especially if McCaffrey fits as well in this scheme as future NFL Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson, who feasted under Turner for many years in San Diego, expects:
“The thing I’m excited about seeing is how Norv is going to use him in the run game. Norv is going to get him on the perimeter. He’s going to call the things that Christian does well – getting him on the edge, getting him into space. So you’ll see a lot of those toss plays, you will see the misdirection plays…to me, Christian will be the guy, the premier player in that offense.“
These comments were made prior to the backfield purging. Now, the team has little choice but to make McCaffrey the premier player, and he should thrive. Yes, Artis-Payne will likely inherit some of the “big back” power carries, and offers some legitimate TD and Penny Stock upside in his own right. This is especially true after CMac averaged a meager 3.7 YPC and minimal 2.1 yards after contact. Yet, he may have been misused, and this backfield is clearly McCaffrey’s now. His RB1 upside is extremely real.