Injuries to star running backs have been plentiful this year, to the frustration of fantasy football managers everywhere. None has been more frustrating than Christian McCaffrey, who has constantly been in and out of the lineup this season. In Week 12, McCaffrey rolled his ankle, raising more injury concerns for the do-everything running back. What’s the latest update on McCaffrey’s availability going forward?
Christian McCaffrey’s injury timeline
McCaffrey missed five weeks earlier this season with a hamstring injury that he suffered in Week 3, returning to action in Week 9 against the Patriots.
Between Weeks 9-11, McCaffrey looked like the RB1 that he was drafted to be. He averaged 68.7 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards per game over those three weeks.
In Week 12, McCaffrey rolled his ankle in the first half and was ruled out for the rest of the game. According to reports, he was spotted in a walking boot at the stadium after the game ended. Now, it has been reported that the Carolina Panthers are placing McCaffrey on season-ending IR. Fantasy managers will have to adjust.
Chuba Hubbard looked great in his place
When called into action, rookie running back Chuba Hubbard looked quite solid. He struggled to get going in his first career start, rushing 13 times for 57 yards in Week 4. But the following week, Hubbard looked much more comfortable. He took 21 carries for 101 yards while adding 5 receptions for an additional 33 yards.
He’s not McCaffrey, but few running backs are. However, when Hubbard was in the game, he was serviceable for a Carolina offense that has sputtered at times this season. He proved that he’s a capable backup and a good fill-in for fantasy managers when given the opportunity.
Fantasy outlook for Chuba Hubbard
With McCaffrey out for the rest of the year, it will once again be Hubbard getting a bulk of the carries — at least, he’ll get the ones going to running backs. With Cam Newton now under center for the Panthers, opportunities for RBs backs have been reduced. Two weeks ago, Newton and McCaffrey had the same number of carries (10) against Washington.
The running back position saw a total of 15 carries in Carolina’s Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins, providing us with a two-week trend of rushing opportunities being more limited in a Newton offense.
Without high volume in the passing game, Hubbard will likely see only 10-12 touches per game, meaning he will have to be incredibly efficient and find the end zone to have fantasy relevance. The Panthers face a brutal stretch of defenses in the fantasy playoffs, going against the Bills, Buccaneers, and Saints in Weeks 15-17.
If you take out Jonathan Taylor’s staggering 5-touchdown performance against the Bills in Week 11, all three of the defenses that the Panthers will face in the fantasy playoffs are in the top five of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. It doesn’t get much harder for a fantasy playoff schedule.
Hubbard will be a RB2 for the rest of the season, but his weekly floor is low. He will need to provide plenty of efficiency to contribute to your fantasy rosters.