Christian McCaffrey’s return seems near for desperate fantasy owners

The Carolina Panthers are about to get Christian McCaffrey back after an extended absence. 

Fantasy owners everywhere lost their minds when Christian McCaffrey went down in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. The good news for them as his return is imminent.

According to Myles Simmons of Panthers.com, McCaffrey returned to practice for the first time since leaving with a high ankle sprain. The All-Pro running back has missed five weeks and is considered a long shot to play Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Carolina Panthers have managed to survive without their all-purpose player in the backfield, going 3-2 over his missed time. Mike Davis filled in nicely in McCaffrey’s absence, tallying 517 total yards, 29 catches and four total touchdowns.

Carolina’s offense has relied heavily on the passing game behind Teddy Bridgewater’s arm. The team currently ranks eighth in average yards per game while the former Saints signal-caller has tallied 1,930 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

Now, imagine McCaffrey’s dual-threat mentality to the mix in the NFC South.

McCaffrey’s skill set allows him to be effective as both a lead runner and a secondary receiver. Since entering the league in 2017, he’s finished with at least 80 catches for 650 yards and five touchdowns through the air while tacking on back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. In 2019, he became the third player in NFL history to post 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.

For fantasy owners, this could be huge in keeping their season alive. Since 2018, the former Stanford star has averaged at least 17.4 points per game, finishing with an impressive 471.2 total points last year. Prior to injury, McCaffrey averaged 23.2 points per game and tallied 46.3 points in two outings.

As for Carolina, this adds another element to their overall offensive game in a race to stay alive in the postseason conversation. If Davis continues to develop as a primary second option and McCaffrey returns to full form, Matt Rhule’s first season in the NFL could end with a playoff berth rather than disappointment.