Fantasy football owners were forced to go all in on Ezekiel Elliott last season. The fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was selected in the top five in many drafts, if not first overall. Those smart owners were rewarded handsomely.
The Dallas Cowboys' running back exceed sky-high expectations, racking up 1,964 total yards and 16 touchdowns in 15 games, almost single-handedly delivering fantasy titles around the world. Elliott lived up to the hype as both a draft pick and fantasy football pick. Will the same be the case for Christian McCaffrey in 2017?
Though he was not the first running back off the board — Leonard Fournette, No. 4 — and taken four spots later than Elliott was a year before — No. 8 to the Carolina Panthers — McCaffrey sits atop many Rookie of the Year boards and is quickly rising up fantasy football draft boards, as per usual for electrifying rookies with outrageous expectations.
McCaffrey's current average draft position (ADP) is No. 32 overall and No. 15 for running backs, per Fantasy Pros. He sits five slots behind Todd Gurley, three behind Lamar Miller and four behind Fournette. He's one slot ahead of Carlos Hyde, three ahead of Joe Mixon and five ahead of C.J. Anderson.
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Yahoo has him as the No. 24 overall player and No. 13 running back. ESPN isn't as convinced, ranking him the No. 51 overall player and No. 21 running back. Noted fantasy guru Matthew Berry has McCaffrey even lower at No. 72 overall — the No. 26 running back.
Where do you need to draft Christian McCaffrey if you want him? The stupid answer is No. 1 overall, because that's really the only way to guarantee anyone in a fantasy draft. And let's be honest, some Carolina and Stanford fans — and people in McCaffrey's home state of Colorado — will do it.
Realistically, in a 12-team standard scoring snake league, third round should do the trick. However, given fans' propensity to overdraft rookies, it'd be little surprise to see him off the board at the end of the second. Of course at the ADP slot of 32, he'll likely be an every-week, plug-and-play starter from Week 1, that is unless you plan to stash him for later use or in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Try to remind your opponents about the rookie running back fantasy busts of the recent past — Trent Richardson and TJ Yeldon for example.
Though McCaffrey won't command an Ezekiel Elliott-level investment, it's likely the rookie running back will be drafted early.