NFL

NFL Betting: Christian McCaffrey Will Fall Short of His Props This Year

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is coming off a historic season in 2019.

McCaffrey posted the most receptions, third-most scrimmage yards, and fifth-most receiving yards by a running back in NFL history. He also added a league-leading 19 touchdowns.

Following a season like that can be quite difficult. But apparently, no one told FanDuel Sportsbook. The oddsmakers at FanDuel have McCaffrey's over/under for yardage at 1974.5 (-112 on both) and 13.5 for touchdowns (+100 on the over and -128 for the under).

Let's take a look at how to approach those bets.

The 400-Touch Club

Though it's happened 44 times, McCaffrey became just the 28th player in league history to reach the 400-touch milestone.

Since 1995, there have been 26 instances of a player totaling 400 touches (excluding McCaffrey) -- the back posted at least 1,975 scrimmage yards in 18 of them. 18 of those campaigns also saw the runner record at least 14 scores. However, of those 26 seasons, only 5 were followed up with 1,975 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns, respectively.

In fact, here's a look at the averages for the 26 400-touch seasons and the following campaigns.

GamesTouchesTotal
Yards
Yards Per
Touch
Total
Touchdowns
Season With 400 Touches15.8422.72148.65.115.5
Season After 400 Touches13.5307.11427.64.68.8


Those are some drastic, and concerning, drops. This data doesn't even account for the fact that two players -- Ricky Williams (2004) and Le'Veon Bell (2018) -- missed entire seasons following their 400-touch campaigns.

Player Profiler states that high Body Mass Index (BMI) running backs are generally more productive and durable. That's why it's noteworthy that McCaffrey (12th percentile among active players) has the second-lowest BMI of any back that has recorded 400 touches since 1988 (33 occurrences). Staying on the field for 16 games could be an issue.

Fewer Touches Ahead?

During new head coach Matt Rhule's seven years as a head coach in college, his teams ranked, on average, 87th in the FBS in carries per game. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady was the passing game coordinator for an LSU team that was 108th in run play percentage in 2019, per TeamRankings.

Granted, the Panthers had the fourth-highest pass-to-run ratio last year, so it'll be tough (but not impossible) for them to run less. However, McCaffrey did receive 287 carries in 2019, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for those to be curbed a bit.

Additionally, the signing of Robby Anderson could be an indication that Carolina will look to spread the ball more in 2020.

Since 1992, only two running backs -- McCaffrey last year and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2003 -- have garnered more than 130 targets in a season. Odds are that McCaffrey will be closer to the 124 looks he got in 2018.

Projection

numberFire's models project McCaffrey to record 361.4 touches, 2013.3 yards, and 11.9 scores. In that scenario, he'd hit the over on the yardage while going under on the touchdowns.

However, that projection is based on him playing 16 games and seeing very little decrease in terms of yards per touch. I wouldn't bet any real money on either of those happening, let alone both.

I would, however, bet on McCaffrey falling short of both of his props in 2020.