The landscape of fantasy football changed dramatically last night as the Carolina Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a second, third, and fourth round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and and a fifth round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It’s a monster trade any way you look at it and has major ramifications in fantasy football as its one of the biggest trades in recent memory. Let’s take a look at the players whose values have been affected.
Christian McCaffrey, RB SF
When McCaffrey came into the league, there were legitimate questions about how his skillset translated to the next level. Those questions were quickly answered and CMC has simply turned into one of the greatest weapons in fantasy football history and now trails only Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk in career games featuring at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards. In short, he’s incredible when he’s on the field. Over the span of his career, he’s posted 3,980 rushing yards, 390 catches, 3,292 receiving yards, and 50 touchdowns in just 64 career games.
The challenge with McCaffrey is clearly his health. After being an absolute workhorse the first three years of his career, McCaffrey played in just ten games the past two seasons as various injuries have struck. On the plus side, he’s looked just fine this year and has played in all six games for Carolina.
Moving forward, McCaffrey’s health is going to be the only thing holding him back from monster numbers in the San Francisco offense. After all, this scheme has historically made pedestrian players look like absolute studs and it’s going to be fascinating to see what one of the most talented running backs of all-time can do as the featured piece of it. Make no mistake, there’s a legitimate chance McCaffrey makes a run to be the RB1 this season. If you have him as a contender, sit back and enjoy. If he’s currently on a losing fantasy team, he’s a prime trade candidate. Remember, he’s still just 26 years old. Should he remain healthy, look for his ADP to start climbing again. While he’ll never be the 1.01 again, his value has received a serious bump in the last 24 hours.
Jeff Wilson Jr, RB SF
Ouch. Wilson has been a solid role player for the 49ers in the past, but had been doing an admirable job as the starter with Elijah Mitchell on the shelf this season. With 400 yards on 4.9 yards per carry, Wilson has been a solid contributor this year in fantasy football as he currently has the 12th most rushing yards in the league. However, the addition of McCaffrey is going to push him back to the bench and make him nothing more than a change of pace player and handcuff yet again.
Elijah Mitchell, RB SF
As bad as the trade is for Wilson, it’s worse for Mitchell. After beating out Trey Sermon for the job last year, Mitchell burst onto the scene in 2021 and posted 963 rushing yards in just 11 games. However, he suffered a knee injury early this season and the concerns about his durability were put into focus again. Unfortunately, the 49ers clearly believed Mitchell couldn’t be the long-term answer and they’ll now have themselves a very capable backup should McCaffrey get hurt. This trade is an absolute throat punch to Mitchell, who should now be a priority acquisition for CMC owners and little more than a lottery ticket for everyone else.
With every trade, there are winners and losers. The Panthers are a total disaster this season and now have this pair to run their backfield. I’m most excited about Foreman, who looked good last season taking over for an injured Derrick Henry after being hit by the injury bug early in his career. Hubbard had his chance last year and was largely unimpressive taking over for an injured McCaffrey. Still, he does have talent and will clearly have a role in what looks to be a committee backfield. Both of these players get a nice boost to their value and while expectations should be tempered, we’ll at least get to see if either of them have a real future in the NFL – they should both clearly be on dynasty rosters.
Raheem Blackshear, RB CAR
Looking for a sleeper? Here’s one of my favorites. Blackshear looked great in preseason for the Bills and was added to their practice squad as a result. A few weeks ago, the Panthers signed him to their active roster. If you have a roster spot open in your dynasty league, you could do worse right now. If Foreman or Hubbard struggle, the Panthers have nothing to lose and could give Blackshear some run. I’m going out on a deep limb here, but I think there’s something here.
Well, there goes the sleeper appeal of these two. Davis-Price and Mason have both shown some flashes in camp and in the preseason, but it’s evident the 49ers don’t see long-term appeal here with either of them, or at least not enough to slow them from their pursuit of McCaffrey. They’re both going to be tough holds in dynasty leagues. TDP is likely still roster worthy, but I’d be hard pressed to make the same case for Mason.
Baker Mayfield, QB CAR
Taking away a struggling quarterback’s best weapon isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Look, Mayfield has been awful this season and it’s fair to wonder just how many more starts he’s going to get with Carolina. He looks like a long-term backup and the Panthers are now squarely in the mix for CJ Stroud, Bryce Young or another quarterback in the upcoming draft. He’s very likely going to be somewhere else next year.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB SF
You have to love this for both Garoppolo and eventually for Trey Lance. McCaffrey can take any swing pass to the house and he’s going to get them in bunches moving forward. While still not in the QB1 discussion, you could do worse than Jimmy G as your QB2 or bye-week fill-in. On another note, I personally don’t think the addition of CMC affects the rest of the San Francisco offense much at all. Deebo Samuel could get fewer carries, but McCaffrey is going to take attention off the others and that can only help matters.