The 2016-2017 NFL Season is one that the Carolina Panthers would just like to forget. Coming off a sensational season where Carolina marched all the way to the Super Bowl, and where QB Cam Newton won the NFL MVP Award, the Panthers could do nothing this past season.
Carolina lost 10 games. They lost 5 out of their first 6 games. The defense imploded. It allowed 289.6 passing yards per game. It gave up 25.1 points per. That ranked 26th in the NFL.
But, as bad as the defense was, and it was certainly bad, the offense was worse. The offense only averaged 23 points per game. The league MVP threw 19 TD passes to 14 interceptions. Cam finished the season with a 75.8 QB rating. It was easily the worst QB rating of his career.
That's why this April the Panthers spent their first round pick on Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. Can McCaffrey get Carolina's struggling offense back on track?
What Does Christian McCaffrey Bring to the Table?
McCaffrey is one of the absolute most talented running backs to come out of college in a long time. His college stats are mind-blowing. McCaffrey rushed for 3,922 yards from 632 carries. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
He also scored 21 rushing TDs. He caught 10 TD passes. Overall, McCaffrey caught 99 passes for 1,206 yards. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch. That's a lot of yards to average for a running back.
Based on a story in the New York Post, McCaffrey hasn't lost any speed, any of his quickness, or his shifty moves. McCaffrey has the ability to excel in any offense. Carolina must have been thanking the stars that Leonard Fournette was the first running back drafted, and not Christian McCaffrey.
He fell right into their laps.
Will McCaffrey Help Cam Newton?
The easy answer is yes”. McCaffrey brings skills to Carolina's offense that Newton has never before seen. He won't just hand the ball off to Christian McCaffrey. Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula is going to draw up plenty of plays to get McCaffrey into the open field. Christian's got excellent hands. He almost never drops the football.
But, no answer when it comes to the NFL is easy. McCaffrey will help Carolina's offense, but will he help Cam be a better quarterback?
It's more difficult to answer that question. Cam Newton's entire career has been built on running with the football when nobody's open. Even when someone is open, Cam has run with the football in the past. Newton has never completed more than 59.8% of his passes. That was in Carolina's Super Bowl season. Last season, Newton completed 52.9% of his passes. It was the lowest completion percentage of Cam's career.
McCaffrey should help Newton raise his completion percentage. Just throwing it McCaffrey's way should help Newton do that. In turn, that will help Cam become a better quarterback.
When Should NFL Fantasy Football Owners Draft Christian McCaffrey?
When it comes to your season long drafts, don't hesitate to take McCaffrey in Round 2 or later. His skill set is too unique for the Panthers to leave him on the bench. He's already juking players like Carolina LB Luke Kuechly.
Just think what McCaffrey can do to a bad defense like the one the Saints rush onto the gridiron every Sunday. By Week 4, McCaffrey could be the fantasy anchor to your season long fantasy team.
What About Carolina QB Cam Newton?
Don't draft QB Cam Newton until Round 4 or later. Newton shouldn't be a hot commodity in season long fantasy football drafts due to his regression last year. That's a good thing if he's up there in Round 4 and you have yet to draft a QB.
Think about it. Teams spy Cam Newton. That's the way they stop 2015's NFL MVP from running it all over them. They can't spy Cam Newton if they must contend with Christian McCaffrey. Don't be surprised if Newton has a fantastic fantasy season.