Garion Thorne and Matt Franciscovich of NFL.com get you ready for 2017 fantasy football draft season with this RB preview, discussing draft projections, rankings, and what to expect from this year’s crop of rookies. Rookie RBs at 20:35
Two guys that have garnered extremely different opinions from the fantasy community are Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon. They’re both rookies in somewhat crowded backfields with loads of talent. Currently, McCaffrey is going at 3.08, and Mixon is going at 4.03, according to Fantasy Football Calculator. They both have the potential to be RB1’s, but they also have potential to be unplayable on your fantasy squad.
On one hand, you have Christian McCaffrey, who was robbed of a Heisman Trophy if you ask me. During his healthiest season (2015), McCaffrey saw 2664 yards from scrimmage, and scored 13 touchdowns. Keep in mind, he played in the Pac-12, so it’s not like he was playing against scrubs. He has the pass catching ability of Danny Woodhead, and football expert Mike Mayock said he is “every bit as athletic” as LeSean McCoy. Pretty high praise.
Look at what Christian McCaffrey did to Luke Kuechly today…. 😳 pic.twitter.com/LaDrBbhAtF
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) August 2, 2017
He’s looked great in training camp, dodging defenders with ease. However, there are many downsides to McCaffrey. A good amount of people think that he’s nothing more than a complementary back, and that Jonathan Stewart will still be the lead back. Also, some draft analysts say he’s too small to make a difference in the NFL. Cam Newton also has a history of not targeting his running backs. That’s all going to change with McCaffrey. McCaffrey is going to be an enhanced version of Danny Woodhead, with elite receiving numbers and deceptively good rushing numbers. I’m all over C-Mac this year.
Joe Mixon could be the most talented running back in his class. Because football is turning into a pass heavy sport and he was on the field with Baker Mayfield, Mixon was not talked about as much as you’d expect when looking at his stats. For reference, HE AVERAGED 6.8 YARDS PER CARRY AT OKLAHOMA. He’s not as skilled as McCaffrey in the passing game, but he is certainly versatile enough to be a duel threat. His upside is ridiculous, there’s really no way to explain it. He’s agile yet powerful, can catch the ball out of the backfield and has breakaway speed. Cincinnati is a terrible place for Mixon to be, though. The Bengals, Marvin Lewis in particular, have a history of bringing rookie players along slowly and not really using them. They already have two running backs with specific roles in Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Hill is in a contract year, and talented enough to get carries, so there is no reason not to use him. Bernard is an extremely good pass catching back. Mixon probably will not see the touches necessary to be an RB1. Mixon has the potential to be an elite RB in year one, but he also could end up as the worst fantasy producer on the depth chart.
This is a tough decision. Both guys have similar ADP’s, and they’re both boom/bust guys. However, if I had my choice of both, I’m rolling with Christian McCaffrey. I just can’t see a scenario where Carolina doesn’t have a huge role waiting for McCaffrey. They wouldn’t have wasted a top ten pick on him without production on the way. Joe Mixon has an extremely bright future, but I’m just not sure he will hit his ceiling in his rookie year with Hill and Bernard still in town.