Should managers worry about drafting Christian McCaffrey this season? | Fantasy Football Forecast

In the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast, Matt Harmon and Edwin Porras break down their outlook for Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey from an injury perspective.

Video Transcript

MATT HARMON: I want to be really sensitive in how I talk about Christian McCaffrey because I know that some fantasy analysts are out there just, he's the number one player on the board because the role is so uniquely rare. We throw a unicorn and stuff all the time. But McCaffrey really does have a unicorn role when it comes to fantasy football. But I totally sympathize with casual players, veteran players, whoever that are pissing their pants about how many games he's missed the last couple of years. What do we do with Christian McCaffrey heading into this season?

EDWIN PORRAS: Yeah, I mean, here's the thing is this is sort of twofold. We know Jonathan Taylor would have been the RB3 or something. I know you guys talked about this in one of your recent pods.

MATT HARMON: Yes.

EDWIN PORRAS: If you want to go JT over McCaffrey, I'm not here to judge your emotions. It's your fantasy draft. You have fun. I get it. What I'll say, and sort of the case, the bull case for Christian McCaffrey, and of course, I'm being an injury optimist here, Christian McCaffrey plays one game in college because of injury. And then he played three years in the NFL without an injury. Lo and behold, in 2020, he missed a large chunk of the season. He had a high ankle sprain, he had an AC joint sprain, and then he had a quad strain.

Then we go into 2021, he gets his hamstring strain, and he also gets this lateral ankle sprain. Here's the thing. All of those are very common running back injuries. So if you want to view it as injury regression for McCaffrey, you definitely could. I think another thing that doesn't help him is that the Panthers, and maybe rightly so, because they've invested a lot of money in him, they definitely take their time with him in their rehab.

They definitely are-- they definitely draw that out. They're never rushing him back, which and honestly, probably part of what played into him not coming back after the hamstring as quickly as we would have assumed that he was going to.

So all of these things in a vacuum, if you view Christian McCaffrey, he's just had a really bad injury luck. There's not one particular thing that keeps happening to him over and over again. And all of the injuries he's had, the top three, hamstring, AC, ankle, those are all the three most common injuries that happen to NFL players. So all I'm saying is the lateral ankle sprain, it's got about an 8% recurrence rate. Hamstring strain after a calendar year, it's about a 5% recurrence rate.

So I can't guarantee that he's not going to get injured. That's not what I'm saying. But what I am saying is that the material risk, I think, is a lot lower than what emotion might dictate.

MATT HARMON: Yeah, I think it's an emotional thing. That's my big part with McCaffrey is that I think part of it is the extreme disappointment of going from the best thing in fantasy football to absolutely nothing. That is really what drives the emotion. And also just sort of the fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me type thing with McCaffrey with two years in a row. So I get where people are coming from. But I do take a lot of solace in your analysis with this. And it makes me feel better about taking him second overall at the very worst.