Who is Christian McCaffrey's Backup? Panthers RB Handcuffs to Know for Fantasy Football
Anyone drafting Christian McCaffrey in 2022 knows about his injury concerns. He's played in just 10 combined games over the past two seasons, leaving some managers feeling burned. Others, though, may have capitalized on McCaffrey's absence by rostering one of his handcuffs.
CMC's large role within the Carolina Panthers' offense not only boosts his value, but the value of his backups as well, who are in line for a huge workload if he misses time. Given how many games McCaffrey has missed, recent history says investing in one of his backups is a smart choice for any fantasy manager.
That's why everyone should know the ins and outs of the Panthers' RB depth chart for the 2022 season.
Panthers Running Back Depth Chart 2022
Following the cutdown to 53-man rosters, Carolina currently has three active running backs in the mix. There's McCaffrey, who's looking to shake off his injury woes and return to fantasy superstardom in 2022. He posted an impressive 18.2 fantasy PPG last season, but only appeared in seven games. Prior to his previous two injury-shortened campaigns, CMC finished as the RB1, RB2 and RB10 in PPR scoring, so his potential is undeniable when healthy.
Things get more complicated behind McCaffrey this season. After having a clear successor in 2020 and 2021, there's two potential candidates behind him for 2022. First is Chuba Hubbard, who had the honor of being McCaffrey's fill-in option last year as a rookie. Given his familiarity with the system, he'd likely have the edge, though it could be slight after the team brought in veteran D'Onta Foreman this offseason.
Foreman proved to be a useful waiver-wire target last year after signing with the Tennessee Titans following Derrick Henry's injury. He produced in a run-heavy role, and there's a chance he would inherit the bulk of McCaffrey's carries if the latter went down, while Hubbard could assume the pass-catching part of CMC's duties.
Who is Christian McCaffrey's Handcuff?
Christian McCaffrey's handcuff could potentially be both Chuba Hubbard and D'Onta Foreman in 2022. Though Hubbard served as the clear-cut starter while McCaffrey was out last season, Foreman presents serious competition to take on at least part of the load if Carolina's RB1 goes down.
There's no denying that Hubbard was fantasy relevant in 2021 when McCaffrey was sidelined. In 10 starts, Hubbard averaged 16.5 opportunities (13.9 attempts plus 2.6 targets) across that stretch with his backfieldmate out. He didn't quite produce despite the volume, though, averaging 10.94 fantasy PPG. He managed to crack more than 13 fantasy points in just five of 10 spot starts, which isn't what most managers want out of a potential RB1/2.
Hubbard's 3.6 yards per carry in 2021 left a lot to be desired, which leaves the door open for Foreman to make his case as the Panthers' next-best run game option. He carried part of the load for the Titans with Henry out, recording three starts and averaging 16.0 attempts over the last eight games of the year. Foreman also showed rushing prowess by putting up 4.2 yards per carry and clocking three 100-yard games down the stretch.
Foreman's 18 career receptions over four seasons show he's not much of a receiving threat out of the backfield, presenting an opportunity for Hubbard if McCaffrey is out. Hubbard hauled in 19 catches as a rookie alone on 26 targets. The departure of pass-catching specialist Ameer Abdullah (49 targets in 2021) means that role is there for the taking.
The question of McCaffrey's handcuff has no clear answer. Hubbard was the RB1 with McCaffrey sidelined in 2021, but his production obviously lacked to the point where Carolina signed a capable veteran backup in Foreman. It's possible the two split McCaffrey's load if he sits any point, with Hubbard presenting more of a pass-catching option, while Foreman aims to lead the ground game.
Hubbard and Foreman are lottery-ticket-type bench stashes, though there's no certainty either leads to a jackpot. Managers could wait to see how Week 1 pans out before using a roster spot on either player.
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Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.