If you played fantasy football in 2020, then you know all about Christian McCaffrey’s lost season. Coming into the year, the Carolina Panthers’ running back seemed poised to post massive numbers; in reality, though, the opposite happened. Thanks to a combination of injuries, CMC only appeared in three games.
While that reality was pretty disappointing for Panthers fans and fantasy football owners alike, Christian McCaffrey has found a silver lining. In the long run, he even thinks that missing most of the campaign could be a positive development.
Christian McCaffrey has grown into an NFL star
In the modern NFL, star running backs have fallen out of favor; most explosive offenses center around the passing game instead. Christian McCaffrey, though, has the talent to thrive in any era of football.
McCaffrey played his college football at Stanford, where he established himself as an all-around athlete capable of running the ball, catching passes, and returning kicks with equal ease. That versatility and talent made him a highly-touted NFL prospect, and the running back joined the Carolina Panthers as the eighth-overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft.
After a solid, if unremarkable rookie year, McCaffrey exploded as an NFL sophomore; he rushed for 1,098 yards, added 867 more as a receiver, and scored 13 total touchdowns. During 2019, he improved on all of those numbers, even with Cam Newton missing most of the campaign.
Heading into 2020, the Panthers had moved on from Newton and hired Matt Rhule as their new head coach; the stage was set for McCaffrey to shine as the team’s main man. That, of course, never ended up happening.
Injuries ruined the running back’s 2020 campaign
As any veteran sports fan can tell you, injuries can affect anyone, no matter how talented they might be. Unfortunately for Christian McCaffrey, his 2020 campaign proved that point perfectly.
After signing a massive contract extension in the offseason, McCaffrey got off to a strong start, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. While he found the end zone twice more in Week 2, his production came at a price; he suffered a high ankle sprain, landing on injured reserve.
The running back remained on the sidelines until Week 9 when he returned to action against the Kansas City Chiefs. He suffered another injury that day, though, and wouldn’t retake the field in 2020.
Coming into the season, Christian McCaffrey was expected to be one of the league’s top offensive stars. He finished the year with a grand total of 225 rushing yards, 149 receiving yards, and six touchdowns.
Christian McCaffrey believes his lost season will be a long-term positive
From both a personal and a professional perspective, it’s easy to see why Christian McCaffrey would be disappointed with his 2020 season. The running back, however, is still finding some positives to the situation.
“During a Wednesday appearance on PFT Live, McCaffrey discussed how he’s trying to keep that from being the case,” Josh Alper explained on ProFootballTalk. “He said he had to ‘quickly learn to be patient and find positives through negative situations’ due to the injuries and that he learned a lot about ‘the flow of the game in general’ by watching games instead of playing in them.”
That’s not the only thing that McCaffrey learned, though. The running back also realized how much football means to him and hopes to turn the entire ordeal into a positive experience.
“It made me a lot hungrier,” the running back continued, according to Alper. “It took me out of my realm for a while to understand how much I love this game. You kinda get that 7-year-old football love back when it’s taken from you. Ultimately, this is something that might add another three, four years to my career. I definitely view it, although negative in the moment, it will be a positive in the long run.”
If nothing else, we know that Christian McCaffrey has the talent to shine at the NFL level. If he comes back from his lost season better than ever, the rest of the league better watch out.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference