Editor's note: This is the second installment of the Fantasy Film Projector series for 2017. The goal of the Fantasy Film Projector is to help you identify traits from college players that will translate to points for your fantasy team if you decide to draft them. It's not meant to be a predictor of NFL success since that largely depends on the team that drafts them, what their scheme is and what opportunity that player will have in the offense.
When it comes to versatility among fantasy running backs, there might not be a better candidate than Stanford prospect Christian McCaffrey. Blending vision, agility, route running, catching ability and a hint of breakaway speed, McCaffrey brings a skill set ripe with fantasy potential if he lands with the right team. Overall, he's one of the more intriguing running backs in the 2017 class.
What we know he can do
McCaffrey was one of the most dynamic college players ever at Stanford. He showed competency as a kickoff returner and even broke Barry Sanders NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yardage (3,250) in the Pac-12 Championship game. He also displayed enough speed to break off long touchdown runs in the open field.
McCaffrey's measurables at the combine this past month backed up his stats in college. Per Mockdraftable, he tested in the 97th percentile in the 3-cone-drill, showing elite agility potential. His 4.48 40-time was also above average and eased worry that he might not be able to outrun defenders at the NFL level. His only big knock is his play strength, as he managed only 10 bench press reps which makes you question his ability to roll his hips and drive forward after initial contact. To put it into context, Dalvin Cook of Florida State had 22 while Samaje Perine posted 30.
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How McCaffrey helps you in fantasy
Based on his traits, McCaffrey would fit best in a west coast offense that uses screen passes, option, and wheel routes out of the backfield. McCaffrey is smooth in and out of his break, which will be a matchup nightmare for linebackers trying to cover him in the open field.
Teams that could utilize him most effectively on paper include the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. In terms of potential for immediate playing time, the New York Giants are the top candidate since they currently have no clear No. 1 running back. Philadelphia might also be a great landing spot for immediate playing time as well since current starter Ryan Mathews has dealt with injuries consistently throughout his career.
In terms of scoring, McCaffrey should benefit your team immediately in the return game if coaches choose to use him that way. He will also be effective in points per reception leagues depending on the offense he's drafted into.
While you might not ever get to see McCaffrey as an every down back since his lack of strength may prevent him from being a strong insider runner, McCaffrey will make up for it with his catching and agility to elude defenders and gain extra yardage. Overall, he's low risk because he clearly has the ball skills required to play at the NFL level, and if he surprises every one and plays stronger than his measurables indicate, then he could be an every-down back and give you incredible value.
Previous Fantasy Film Projector installments: Jeremy McNichols