Yahoo Sports' Liz Loza and Matt Harmon discuss how the star RB could perform under a new head coach, in a new offense.
LIZ LOZA: Matt, I want to stick with you because we're going to talk about those players who are burdened, if you will, with the first overall pick. As our quasi-resident Panthers fan, what are your expectations for Christian McCaffrey in a new offense with a new quarterback and a new head coach?
MATT HARMON: Well, two things there, Liz. You actually did a really good podcast recently, and your guest highlighted that, you know, they were-- I think you might be able to talk about it more than I could but-- highlighted that, you know, the number one running back overall has never repeated, you know, in multiple seasons the last decade. Something like that I think it was.
So, I mean, the odds are very good. You know, last year coming into the season I think Saquon Barkley went number 1 overall in 75% of Yahoo drafts, and this will be even more consensus of the top guy going first overall in this year's draft. So the odds are pretty good that, you know, McCaffrey finishes as like running back 3, running back 4, running back 5.
And also like we talk about continuity so much, you mentioned it. There's no team that has worse continuity this year than the Carolina Panthers. They have a new starting quarterback, new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new defensive coordinator. I believe they're the only NFL team that boasts that much transition from last year to this year.
So at the end of the day, though, there's really no-- other than just he's not going to probably be the top scoring running back again, there's probably, you know, a lot of transition in the offense-- there's really no holes that you can poke in McCaffrey's outlook. I mean, he's been an absolute workhorse the last two years. I think this offense is going to throw the ball a ton. I think they're going to play really fast.
I wouldn't be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater, if he plays a 16-game season, leads the NFL in pass attempts. And the Panthers were already past heavy last year too. So there's really no holes you can poke in McCaffrey's outlook. It's just you have to realize like, maybe don't cry yourself to sleep in a few months from now if he finishes as the running back 3 because that's just kind of it tends to happen.
LIZ LOZA: Right, it was Mauricio Gutierrez of Estadio Fantasy that came on the Yahoo fantasy football forecast a couple of weeks ago and noted that stat that I believe over the-- and you included it in your running back tiers article, which everyone should definitely check out on the website-- that over the past decade only two RB1s from fantasy purposes managed to finish within the top five in, again, the second season.
So I also want to add that our very own Scott Pianowski has fearlessly forecasting Christian McCaffrey for 103 catches, 2,044 total yards, and 13 touchdowns. That's about 350 yards and six touchdowns fewer than he posted in 2019. It's going to be interesting because Matt, I think when you're talking about these Panthers throwing a lot more, you're alluding obviously to the ultra green defense and the need for them to make up for that deficiency but also accounting for the addition of Robby Anderson. It makes things a little bit-- a little bit murkier.
MATT HARMON: This defense looks horrible on paper. I mean, let's not-- let's not pull any punches. Like, honestly, I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp on a lot of NFL players. I feel like I got a pretty good grasp on a lot of these rosters because it's my job. And, I mean, the Panthers especially. Like you mentioned, I've got some sort of weird attachment to that team.
Yikes. I don't know who a lot of these goofballs are back there. So I mean, it's going to be quite a messy year from a defensive perspective. I don't think they're going to be in a lot of positive games scripts, and they do have the weapons. I think they've got the guys on offense to be a pass leaning team, and I think that's the strength of their team. So yeah, I think they're going to-- I think they're just going to be pushing the ball a lot because not only do they need to, I think they also kind of want to as well.