Mid-to-late August is a popular time for bettors to start putting together their futures bets ahead of the 2022 season, as well as for fantasy football managers to start ranking players they want at the top of their draft board.
I'm here to tell you that if Carolina Panthers do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey isn't at the top of your board for both your upcoming prop bets and fantasy drafts, you're doing it wrong.
Let's start with the reason why many choose to fade the sixth-year star. After playing in all 16 games his first three seasons while putting up absurd numbers for volume and combined rushing and receiving yards, McCaffrey finally got bit by the injury bug. After playing in every game from 2017-2019, he only played in 10 combined games during the 2020-2021 seasons.
However, it's no mistake that McCaffrey's absence played a role in the Panthers' lost season a year ago. After starting 3-0 in 2021, Carolina went just 2-12 the rest of the way. In games McCaffrey played last year, Carolina was 4-3.
McCaffrey has only played in 10 games the last two years, but his numbers still indicate he's amongst the best, if not THE best at the position when he's on the field.
Via Establish the Run, in the first two games of 2021, McCaffrey averaged just under 30 touches for 162 yards. While he only played in seven games all season, author Evan Silva points out that he still led all NFL running backs in yards per route run and targets per route. He also finished in the top 3 in broken + missed tackles forced; trailing only Javonte Williams of the Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots back Rhamondre Stevenson.
When it comes to where McCaffrey ranks amongst his fellow backs, there simply isn't any comparison. When he's healthy, he's the top back, and perhaps the most complete offensive skill-player in the league.
Vegas Buying Christian McCaffrey to Have a Bounce Back Season with Panthers
One other reason to feel bullish on McCaffrey's outlook in 2022 are through the totals the sportsbooks have set for him. Here's where FanDuel Sportsbook placed McCaffrey's prop bet odds for this season:
- Total Regular Season Touchdowns: 7.5 (OVER -112 | UNDER -112)
- Total Regular Season Rushing Yards: 875.5 (OVER -112 | UNDER -112)
- Total Regular Season Rushing & Receiving Yards: 1,600.5 (OVER -112 | UNDER -112)
If McCaffrey's usage this year is anything like it's been since he became the RB1, he should shatter that projection. During his two best seasons in 2018-2019, McCaffrey accounted for 13 and 19 total touchdowns, and had six total scores in 2020 despite playing in just three games.
As for rushing yards, McCaffrey was on pace in each of the last two seasons to pass 875.5, but failed to do so due to injury the last two years. In his two 16-game seasons the previous two years, he accounted for 1,098 and 1,387 rushing yards, as well as 1,965 and 2,392 rushing and receiving yards.
I also presented the case for McCaffrey as a value bet to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year to BetSided's Peter Dewey in an episode of "Daily Betslip," citing that there's no other player on the list that offers the upside he brings to the table.
Below are the latest Comeback Player of the Year odds via FanDuel Sportsbook ahead of the 2022 season.
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds
- Derrick Henry +400
- Jameis Winston +500
- Christian McCaffrey +800
- Baker Mayfield +1200
- Chase Young +1400
- Michael Thomas +1600
- Saquon Barkley +1600
- Daniel Jones +2000
- Marcus Mariota +2000
- JuJu Smith-Schuster +2000
- Mitchell Trubisky +2000
- Allen Robinson +2500
- Travis Etienne +3000
- Chris Godwin +3000
- Cam Akers +4000
- Robert Woods +5000
While Henry was on pace to shatter the league lead in touches a season ago, the Tennessee Titans' offense could be in trouble with A.J. Brown traded to the Philadelphia Eagles; making them far more one-dimensional.
The value at +800, even on a bad team still sets up well for McCaffrey to take home Comeback Player of the Year, and perhaps a fantasy trophy for your season-long league as well.
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