Thursday Night Football this week was much different than the past two weeks. We finally got a game that broke 19 points, and most of America wasn’t asleep by halftime. However, the present we got last night was a significant trade that shook the dynasty fantasy football landscape.
Stunner: Panthers are trading Pro-Bowl RB Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for draft picks, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 21, 2022
McCaffrey returns to the Bay Area, where he attended Stanford. pic.twitter.com/R474r3eSkv
The Carolina Panthers traded Christian McCaffery to the San Francisco 49ers. The final trade package was pure draft picks being sent to Carolina; a 2023 second, third, and fourth, as well as a fifth in 2024. The 49ers are all in, and the Panthers are continuing a sell-off, but how does this affect dynasty fantasy football? Let’s take a look!
Shanahan’s New Shiny Toy
The San Francisco 49ers now have many offensive weapons to utilize this year. This is the best team McCaffery has played on since his early days with Cam Newton. For the first time in many years, he doesn’t have to be the focal point of the defensive coordinator’s game plan. In Carolina, especially this season, the lack of quarterback talent led to a defensive scheme that wasn’t afraid of the ball being pushed down the field. Despite this, McCaffery was able to eat in Carolina.
The most exciting thing to think about is how creative Kyle Shanahan will be now that he has a weapon like McCaffery. We saw a great example of this with Deebo Samuel. The way the offense operated in 2021, Samuel was used as both a wide receiver and a running back. He accumulated over 50 rush attempts that year. Shanahan now has the exact opposite in Christian McCaffery, a running back that can easily be used as a wide receiver. This 49er’s offense will be one of the most exciting to watch for the rest of the year.
What To Expect
McCaffery is one of the top guys at running back in 2022. He was going at either the first or second overall pick in redraft leagues. Now, we may see a down-tick in volume, but that will also correlate with an increase in efficiency. McCaffery only has three touchdowns on the season, but his opportunities for more grew exponentially. The main question will be health. Many San Francisco running backs have injuries, and many say the Shannahan run scheme leads to many injuries. That, combined with CMC’s recent health history, does cause some concern about his availability for the rest of the year.
Looking forward, from a dynasty standpoint, the 49ers would already have an out on the CMC contract next offseason, where they would save $12 million against the cap with no dead cap hit. This trade happened less than 24 hours ago, and there is plenty of time to move money around. With such a draft capital investment, I don’t see the 49er’s moving on as early as next offseason. I think the more likely scenario is restructuring this offseason that will convert most of the money due to a signing bonus and lower his yearly cap hit from its current number of $12 million a year for the next three years.
There is an opportunity in Carolina now. On the roster are D’onta Foreman, Chubba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear. In the absence of McCaffery, Foreman would serve as the lead running back. The problem is that role may not be fantasy relevant, given the state of this current roster. The other pass catchers and running backs accounted for around a thousand scrimmage yards without McCaffery on the roster. He has also accounted for about half of the total scores for the Panthers on the season. Foreman would be the guy, but as we said, he won’t produce much more than high-end RB3 numbers. Raheem Blackshear is worth the add in dynasty leagues as he is an undrafted free-agent rookie that we have yet to see on the field. A player like that is always worth the lottery ticket he could break out.
Jeff Wilson, Elijah Mitchell, & Others
This trade kills the starting value for Wilson, Mitchell, and the other 49ers running backs. Dropping any of them shouldn’t be an option. As stated earlier, there is already cause for concern regarding McCaffery’s health, considering his history and the team he is going to. Wilson is a handcuff, and hopefully, Mitchell has a spot in your IR spot if your league has those. If McCaffery were to miss time with injury, those guys would resume the role they held before the trade.
The other running backs on the roster are another conversation, however. Tevin Coleman was elevated from the practice squad last week, and he will probably find his way back there next week. You can safely drop Coleman if you picked him up to begin with. The other two running backs on the roster are rookies. If Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason remain on your taxi squad, then that is where they spend the rest of the season. If they somehow made their way onto your bench, you can move on to the next hot waiver claim. As stated earlier, a restructuring of McCaffery’s contract is likely this offseason, and San Francisco sees this as more than just a one-year rental.
Carolina Panthers Going Forward
After moving Robbie Anderson and McCaffery this week, the Panthers have accepted the complete rebuild. The Carolina Panthers fired Matt Rhule a few weeks ago, which caused this chain of events to take place. Carolina is tied with the Texans for the number one overall pick front-runner. There are still players like Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson on the roster that can also be moved before the November 1st trade deadline. As much as dynasty managers would love to see it, the franchise has already said DJ Moore is an essential building block.
The Panthers will be a very attractive job for head coaching candidates this off-season. General manager Scott Fitterer also has a good chance of spending his last season in Carolina. With the number one overall pick, we could see either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud in a Panthers uniform next season. Another thing we would love to see is one of those extra second-rounders used on an elite running back like Jahmyr Gibbs, Zach Evans, or Sean Tucker. Carolina will be critical to our 2023 rookie drafts next summer.
San Francisco All In
Every year, they throw draft capital to find that missing piece. Previously it was the Trey Lance trade. Now it is the McCaffery deal. Between these two trades, San Francisco has said goodbye to their first, second, third, and fourth-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft. San Francisco is all-in for a title run in 2022. And it may be the perfect time to do so. There is a plague of mediocrity surrounding the league right now, with multiple division leaders currently sitting at three wins and three losses. McCaffery may be the piece that can push San Francisco over the edge in 2022.
The not-so-obvious dynasty move that should be made on the back of this trade is getting Trey Lance. If your team is not competing this year, or even if you are and the price is right, acquiring Trey Lance seems like a good idea. The summer narrative will be about how he has many weapons in this offense. Almost as if the offense is too big to fail. Despite missing football for four years at this point, the hype will be so extreme that you can quickly flip Lance for plus value over the summer.
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I hope you enjoyed this piece in our Winning With Vegas series. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!