Christian McCaffrey was the consensus first overall pick in fantasy football drafts. For the second consecutive year, however, injuries are threatening to derail his season. The expectation is that this injury won’t be long term, but what is his immediate future? Will he play in Week 5, and should you start him in fantasy football?
Update: Christian McCaffrey is inactive for the Panthers Week 5 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. Check out our analyst’s thoughts on whether you should start or sit Chuba Hubbard in Week 5.
Should you start Christian McCaffrey in Week 5?
McCaffrey’s involvement in all aspects of the offense gives him one of fantasy football’s highest floors and ceilings. It’s impossible to overlook his impact when he’s on the field.
Christian McCaffrey is still a fantasy superstar
When he’s on the field, McCaffrey’s still the transcendent, game-changing talent that he’s always been. In the season opener against the New York Jets, he rushed 21 times for 98 yards. While that’s good volume and a solid enough stat line, it’s only part of the picture. He reeled in all of his 9 targets in the passing game and totaled 89 receiving yards.
In Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints, CMC had another relatively inefficient day on the ground. He rushed 24 times for 72 yards. The good news for fantasy managers is that he scored a touchdown on one of those runs. He also added 5 receptions on 6 targets for 65 yards.
McCaffrey is the RB6 in points per game in standard scoring. That’s despite leaving early in Week 3. Through two weeks of the season, when he had a full workload, he was the RB2. Only Derrick Henry had scored more points.
Clearly, when McCaffrey’s on the field, he’s worth the investment.
McCaffrey is the workhorse of the offense
Long term, this is still McCaffrey’s offense. Chuba Hubbard filled in admirably, but the Panthers have invested heavily in McCaffrey and made him the focal point of their offense. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, and the only question is health.
Head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady may decide to ease McCaffrey back into the offense. They may limit his touches to keep him fresh, but that hasn’t been their approach in the past.
McCaffrey missed six games last season after sustaining a high ankle sprain in Week 2. The injury landed him on the injured reserve, forcing the team to turn to Mike Davis. McCaffrey returned in Week 9, but rather than rotate Davis in to keep him fresh, McCaffrey was given 18 rushing attempts and had 10 receptions.
He was then shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Does McCaffrey see 28 touches again? Maybe not. But Davis was a veteran who had proven himself over almost two months. Hubbard is a rookie. If the past is a predictor, then McCaffrey is in for another busy week if he plays.
The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled against RBs
As a fantasy manager, there aren’t many more appealing games than the Eagles. RBs have been producing against them all season. Even the Atlanta Falcons, who scored just 3 points, moved the ball. The Falcons had 116 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards. The Eagles are currently allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs. They’re also allowing the seventh-most in points per reception (PPR) scoring.
Is McCaffrey starting in Week 5?
McCaffrey is currently listed as doubtful on the Carolina Panthers’ injury report. He has been a limited participant in practice all week but was in full pads on Friday. That’s a definite step in the right direction, but there are still hurdles to overcome. If he doesn’t play, then he should be healthy enough to return in Week 6.
Hubbard would be in line to continue as the starter in his absence. He’s currently the RB27 in our Week 5 Running Back Rankings. That ranking is based on the assumption that McCaffrey is inactive. Hubbard would be ranked significantly lower if he isn’t the starter. As a result, there would likely be better options to plug into your starting lineup.
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