Can Christian McCaffrey Work in Carolina?

The Panthers took running back Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Was it the right selection?

Here's the thing about the NFL: throwing the ball is much, much more effective than running it.

In 2014, the average drop back by a quarterback added roughly 0.10 points -- expected points -- to a team's total. That year, a rush lost 0.03 points, on average, for a team. And the same was mostly the case in 2015 and 2016, with the gap between the two numbers actually growing.

As a result, wins have correlated twice as strongly to passing efficiency than they have to rushing efficiency over the last decade. This shouldn't be shocking: the best teams in football usually are also the best passing teams in football.

And that's what makes Christian McCaffrey such a dynamic asset.

During his final year at Stanford, McCaffrey gobbled up over 15% of the team's receiving yards while catching more than 20% of the team's passes. That -- that's not normal for a running back.

And he is a running back. Though naysayers will explain that his small frame won't translate to being an in-between-the-tackles runner at the NFL level, we just don't have evidence to back that up. Because his market share numbers -- he handled 48.47% of Stanford's carries during his senior year while accumulating 59.02% of the team's rushing yards -- are in line with what we've seen from successful NFL running backs historically.

It's doubtful that we see 300- or even 250-plus carries from McCaffrey in the pros, but his receiving ability should more than make up for it. Especially in fantasy football, as a running back target in PPR formats is worth roughly three times the amount of points as a running back rush.

But is his situation with his newly drafted team, the Panthers ideal?

McCaffrey in Carolina

One thing the Panthers haven't done a lot of with Cam Newton under center is throw the ball to the running back. Last season, they targeted backs on just 13% of their passes, second-lowest in the NFL. And Jonathan Stewart's seen more than 31 targets in a single season just once during his injury-filled career.

On top of that, Newton himself is known to steal goal line looks, capping a running back's fantasy potential in the offense.

With that being said, McCaffrey is an incredibly versatile piece that fits a couple of the Panthers' needs. They needed a running back for both depth and to take over for an aging J-Stew, and the team is without a slot receiver, a position McCaffrey can play. With Ted Ginn Jr. out of the picture in Carolina, there are targets -- in general -- that are freed up. It wouldn't be shocking to see McCaffrey with a 15% target market share in the offense as soon as next year as a result.

Overall, McCaffrey could've landed in a spot that was better suited for his skillset, but given his ability to play multiple positions, the Panthers can do a lot in morphing their offense around him. That's especially true if Cam Newton begins hanging out in the pocket a little more than he has in the past after his concussion last year.