Hindsight is always 20-20, but it’s hard to believe now that there was any real debate before the season about which player fantasy drafters should take with the top overall pick. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey wasted little time in separating himself from the competition, running circles around Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott while establishing himself as fantasy football’s new undisputed king. McCaffrey has put together an absolutely dominant―and potentially record-setting—fantasy campaign, and he’s within reach of LaDainian Tomlinson’s long-held single-season fantasy points record (481.1 in 2006). Here’s a quick look at McCaffrey’s unbelievable year, by the numbers.
416.1 PPR points
McCaffrey’s points total through 14 weeks smashes both Barkley’s position-best 385.8 PPR points from last year and Todd Gurley’s NFL-high 383.3 PPR points from 2017. In fact, if McCaffrey decided to sit out the last two games of the season and stand pat on his 416.1 PPR points, it’d still go down as the eighth-best fantasy season by any offensive player, ever.
With two games still to play (assuming he plays in both), McCaffrey is on pace for 475.5 PPR points. He’d need a small boost to best Tomlinson’s 31-touchdown, 481.1-PPR-point outburst from 2006, but if he just maintains course, he’d be in second place all time on the single-season fantasy scoring leaderboard, allowing him to leapfrog Marshall Faulk’s 459.9-point MVP season in 2000.
McCaffrey has been nearly as dominant in non-PPR scoring formats too. With 322.1 standard league points (in which the third-year back’s 94 receptions don’t help him), he’s on pace for 368.1 points on the year—which would be the fifth-best mark all time (excluding QBs) and the highest total since Tomlinson’s epic season in 2006.
29.7 points per game
McCaffrey is averaging two points more than the next best player, Lamar Jackson (27.7 per game), and a full 8.8 points per game better than the no. 2 running back, Dalvin Cook (20.9 per game). Just think about that: McCaffrey has been worth more than a touchdown more per game than the second-best running back this season. If you compare his numbers to this season’s current no. 12 running back in PPR―i.e., the lowest-end RB1, Todd Gurley—McCaffrey’s value is even more striking.
Gurley averaged 14.7 PPR points per game this season, less than half that of McCaffrey. That meant that plugging the Carolina running back into your lineup each week was essentially the same as starting two low-end RB1s in one roster spot. The Panthers star was a nice little cheat code for your fantasy squad.
Part of McCaffrey’s fantasy reliability comes from the fact that he’s a workhorse. The third-year pro has played on 95 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps this year (925 total), third on the team behind only offensive linemen Taylor Moton and Matt Paradis and tops among all running backs. McCaffrey has handled all but 22 of the team’s 287 running back carries this year (92 percent) and scored all but two of the team’s 16 running back rushing touchdowns. There’s no running back vulture in the Carolina offense.
In addition to having a near-monopoly on the Panthers’ rushing volume, McCaffrey has also been a major factor in the team’s passing game. The versatile playmaker has logged a league-best (among running backs) 22 percent target share in the Carolina air attack, reeling in a position-high 94 receptions (16 more than the next most prolific pass-catching back, Austin Ekeler) for 814 yards and four touchdowns.
Combined with his 1,307 rushing yards (third in the league), McCaffrey has already racked up an incredible 2,121 scrimmage yards in 2019—best in the league. At his current pace, McCaffrey would tally 2,424 scrimmage yards in 16 games, which would put him third on the all-time single-season list, behind only Chris Johnson in 2009 (2,509) and Marshall Faulk in 1999 (2,429). Oh, and McCaffrey has scored a league-high 18 touchdowns this year.
5.7 points per game
It’s already pretty obvious to anyone who’s watched him play, but I’ll say it anyway: McCaffrey’s status as a fantasy god is not solely due to the elite volume he sees. Pro Football Focus’s expected points metric, which measures the amount of points an average player would score given his workload, does a damn good job of illustrating how McCaffrey has gone above and beyond in producing elite numbers. With a combination of explosiveness, elusiveness, and toughness, the superstar running back has done more than just about everyone in the league with the touches he’s gotten this year, averaging an additional 5.7 points per game more than his expectation―best among the top 25 players in expected fantasy points per game this year, per PFF. The dude is special.
McCaffrey has been one of the most valuable fantasy assets in the league this year, the type of foundational player who seemed to carry his teams to victory just about every single week. That hasn’t just been the case for the regular season, either, and thanks to a cool 31-point average during the past two weeks, he’s put those teams on his back and carried them into the championship round too. McCaffrey appears on 48.1 percent of teams set to duke it out on championship weekend, per ESPN, and is the foundational piece on an incredible 81 percent of the top-500 public league teams on Yahoo. In other words, if you found yourself mumbling to yourself angrily at any point this season that someone in your league “won only because they had McCaffrey,” you probably weren’t wrong.