Dynasty Trending Observations: Christian McCaffrey, De’Von Achane, and the Chiefs’ Running Game

Michael Moore

From pop stars to a fantasy footballer’s dream game, this weekend was not short of excitement. Below are a few of the bigger trends including, yes, a Taylor Swift reference.

Every Day is McCaffrey the Same

It looks silly in hindsight but the cost to the 49ers to acquire Christian McCaffrey was relatively high – a second, third, fourth, and future fifth-round pick for a 26-year-old running back who had played just ten games in his previous two seasons combined and was one of the highest-paid backs in the league. But McCaffrey proved the 49ers correct in their assessment that he wasn’t done.

In his 11 games with San Francisco to close out the 2022 season, he rushed for 746 yards and added 464 receiving yards, scoring ten times total. He is off to an even better start in 2023, averaging 117 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown a game. Make no mistake – this isn’t to question if CMC is fantasy’s top back but rather what to do with him in dynasty leagues.

Dynasty Impact: It’s rare for any player to see their dynasty value reach the top of the rankings only to dip but then rebound to the top again, but that’s exactly what McCaffrey’s dynasty value has done.

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He’s had some challengers in recent years, including Breece Hall and Bijan Robinson, but no other back has the combination of talent, workload, and situation that McCaffrey does.

Current McCaffrey dynasty managers will hold on to him at least for a few more weeks. He might be enough to propel into playoff contention by himself, at which point you’ll keep him and ride it out.

But if your dynasty team is nowhere close to a playoff spot at the midway point, it would benefit you to put him on your league’s trade bait. McCaffrey will turn 28 before next season and the shelf life of running backs isn’t nearly as long as other positions of fantasy relevance. If you can get a haul for McCaffrey, including rookie picks for 2024 where there will be several elite players available, I would go that route.

Chief of (the) Staff

We couldn’t have a series that looks at the biggest trends of the weekend and not include (at least tangentially) the biggest development of all. Yes, Taylor Swift was at the Chiefs game to support her friend/boyfriend/future ex Travis Kelce. But you don’t need me to tell you how great Kelce is as a dynasty tight end. He’s the best, end of story. But the Tweet/X above does touch on a subject that dynasty managers have not figured out – the Chiefs’ running game.

The drafting of Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft was supposed to remove this question altogether. CEH was a popular pick at the top of rookie drafts that year thanks to his landing spot on one of the best offenses of this century. Not only has he failed to play in more than 13 games in any of his three professional seasons but his attempts total has gone down each year. Last year’s dip was due to seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco‘s emergence as the preferred early-down back. Then there’s receiving specialist Jerick McKinnon who manages to snipe both CEH and Pacheco, including week three when McKinnon scored twice on whopping six-yard and three-yard receptions respectively. So, as dynasty managers, what do we do?

Dynasty Impact: While the Chiefs must love the depth that their running back room provides, it’s frustrating for fantasy players, both re-draft and dynasty managers alike.

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None of them are ideal candidates to consistently start on fantasy teams due to their unpredictability which makes this season a wash. Beyond this season, both CEH and McKinnon are free agents. And as the Chiefs have shown, they don’t exactly need (or are able) to spend on running backs which means both veterans could be looking for a new home when the season ends.

Thanks to Pacheco’s rookie deal, he’s under contract for two more seasons after this and at a bargain price. He’s a good bet to stick around and pick up whatever scraps Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs coaches throw him.

Swimming with the Dolphins

It took Taylor Swift to unseat the Dolphins’ offensive explosion as the top story for week three. Miami went off against the Broncos, totaling 70 points and over 700 yards on offense, and led to a fantasy football dream. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 300-plus yards and four touchdowns; Tyreek Hill caught nine balls for 157 yards and a touchdown; Raheem Mostert carried it just 13 times but totaled 82 yards and three touchdowns along with his seven receptions for 60 yards and another touchdown. And last, but certainly not least, was rookie running back De’Von Achane. He broke out with 203 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while adding four receptions for 30 yards and two touchdowns making him everyone’s player of the week and possibly turning in the best fantasy game of anyone this year.

Dynasty Impact: It should surprise no one that Achane’s dynasty value is going to skyrocket after this week. In a rookie running back class that includes top-12 picks like Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, Achane has the potential to run away with the title of the best. He was already ranked 25th in DLF’s running back rankings and that was before his breakout game.

But hold on. The same knock on Achane before the draft is still there – his size. His speed was on full display against Denver but it remains to be seen if he can handle the load for an entire season or just in small spurts. Yes, he totaled 200 rushing yards but he also only saw 18 carries. And Mostert is still the nominal starter who won’t be going away, at least not for this season. Achane is a great story and a great value for those dynasty managers who took him towards the end of their rookie drafts. But if your dynasty team is not in the playoff hunt in a few weeks and Achane is still producing, I’d at least entertain trade offers with an eye toward next year.

michael moore
Dynasty Trending Observations: Christian McCaffrey, De’Von Achane, and the Chiefs’ Running Game