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Waiver wire replacement options for Christian McCaffrey

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In the wake of Christian McCaffrey's season-ending ankle injury, Yahoo Sports' Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski discuss potential waiver wire replacement options, while analyzing the relatively short shelf life of top-tier running backs.

Video Transcript

ANDY BEHRENS: The other major injury coming out of this week at running back, obviously, Christian McCaffrey. AND news breaking just on Monday that he is-- the team has announced that he's actually going to be out for the season. So it was an ankle injury, but barely active in the second half of that game. He was in a boot afterwards.

And now we have to decide if we also think that Chuba Hubbard is part of that conversation in terms of being somebody that you just-- like, I think it's easy to just say, OK, I'm going to go all in on two players in waivers this week. And whatever I have, I can throw at Madison. And my plan B would probably be Hubbard.

I don't-- I guess I don't view Hubbard in the Panthers situation generally is being quite as ripe as-- as the Vikings offense. And I suppose I have a few more questions about-- about Hubbard's talent level relative to Madison's. They're-- they're headed into a bye this week.

And then they-- and then they come out of it. And you've got, you know-- you've got a pretty-- you've got a pretty significant runway for-- for Hubbard there. Again, I don't know that I'd put him in that same classification as-- as Madison. But I do think he's another guy that we basically have to go all in on.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I agree. And with McCaffrey, it underscores a star running back is always closer to the end of his relevance than we ever want to imagine. I mean, think of Todd Gurley's career arc, where he was on all the magazine covers just a few years ago, and now he's not in the league. Or David Johnson was like that. Le'Veon Bell was like that, right, I mean, who couldn't even stick with a Baltimore a team that is screaming for anybody at running back who can play. They kick the tires on Bell and then just kind of walked away from it.

The shelf life for a running back, it used to be we used to get nervous when these guys hit 30. Now we're just nervous when they hit their second contract, right? Because it's just so hard to stay healthy. It's so hard to stay productive.

So just keep-- keep that in mind, that, you know, if you're playing keeper formats, dynasty formats, that you really need to skew extremely young at the running back position. And the moment the top-- Saquon Barkley, right? I mean, we at the end of the Saquon Barkley relevance? He hasn't looked right all season.

I actually think Booker-- I don't know what Booker's rostership is right now. I'm sure it's lower than it should be just because he's the guy who was easily going to absorb 13 to 15 touches, I think, in weeks when Barkley isn't healthy. And I don't think Barkley's healthy right now.

Booker is a guy I would want rostered anywhere I could. So just keep that in mind, that it's-- McCaffrey dominated fantasy two years ago, right? I don't know that his career is over, you know, his fantasy relevance is over. He's not going to be the first pick of drafts next year. I think we all know that.

But just remember it's always later than you think. It's like when you travel to a different time zone, and, you know, maybe you're a West Coast guy. And you travel back East, and your body thinks it's, oh, it's like 7, 8 o'clock at night, you know, 9 o'clock at night. And then the clock says midnight, you know. That's kind of the way running backs are. You think it's 9 o'clock at night, and it's really midnight.

As far as Hubbard goes, I-- he-- I think he's, like, a league average player. I don't think he's anything-- there's no special attribute to Hubbard's game. He was famously drafted because Matt Rhule's wife thought he was a good player in college, and that enabled them to take a second look at him. And this Carolina offense has problems, right? They have a quarterback who right now isn't particularly accurate. He may be somebody who steals go-line rushing, which would take out of Hubbard.

I mean, I'm thinking, I don't know if Carolina, off the top of my head, plays next week. But I think Hubbard's not even-- not an automatic starter. This is not a Madison situation or a Pollard situation, where the moment they get elevated you would start them, no questions asked.

I don't think you'd even be asked about them on "Fantasy Football Live" or in the chat that I do on Sundays. Hubbard is OK, I'm glad I have him. Maybe I start him. Maybe I don't.

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah, he has averaged 3 and 1/2 yards per carry for the season, obviously hasn't taken on the same receiving workload that we would have imagined for Christian McCaffrey or that a healthy McCaffrey would have seen. They come out of their bye with a matchup against Atlanta, which is fine. But then it's Buffalo, and then it's Tampa.

So it's tough sledding. He is a-- he is a player that's in line for, you know, 20-plus touches behind a really messy offensive line. But I think we're in the same place on Hubbard, where you-- you kind of got to do it. You certainly have to do it if you were tied to Christian McCaffrey. And you know, good luck finding another player who's in line for 20 touches, 20 carries in any given week. Like, they're just there's not out there, right?

So you basically have to be-- the way I prioritize these two main adds, I think, is-- is obviously Madison first and then-- and then Hubbard second. And I understand why Hubbard is so widely available. He's available in about 70% of Yahoo leagues right now. Because as soon as McCaffrey came back, Hubbard's value just absolutely evaporated.

But he's-- he's right back in the game. And he's just sort of in our fantasy plans. But just keep in mind that the schedule's a bit rough.