Christian McCaffrey
Photo Credit: Charlotte Observer

Christian McCaffrey – The Most Versatile Running Back In The NFL


The 24-year-old running back from Stanford University, Christian McCaffrey, already has some outstanding accomplishments despite being in the league for only three seasons. His insanely versatile game has shocked many football fans, making him a generational talent. In this article, I will prove why McCaffrey is the most versatile running back in today’s game.


McCaffrey is versatile due to his elite abilities as a receiving back and a pure running back. He ranks as one of the best bell-cow running backs currently. The most rushing touchdowns in the 2019 season was a tie between Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones at 16. McCaffrey rushed for 15 touchdowns but caught four, while Henry caught two, and Jones caught three.


Photo Credit: InsideHook

McCaffrey was responsible for 2,392 yards from scrimmage, 1,387 of those rushing, and 1,005 of those receiving. Those numbers ranked 4th in the NFL for rushing and first in the NFL for running backs in receiving. He is the third running back in history to record above 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Henry only recorded 206 receiving yards, which totals to 1,746 scrimmage yards. Jones only recorded 474 receiving yards, amounting to 1,558 scrimmage yards.

Even comparing other running backs’ best seasons to McCaffrey’s, they are either worse, even though it’s only his third year in the league. Ezekiel Elliott’s season with his most rushing yards was his rookie year, where he recorded 1,631 rushing yards but produced only 420 receiving yards. Elliott rushed for 15 touchdowns that year, the same amount that McCaffrey rushed for in the 2019 season, but McCaffrey recorded 1,005 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.


The best comparison for versatility must be Alvin Kamara, who in his rookie season had 826 receiving yards but only 728 rushing yards. Kamara’s most rushing yards in a season was 883 in his 2018 season. His most receiving yards in a season was 826 in his rookie season. McCaffrey had more receiving yards in addition to more rushing yards in his 2019 season than Kamara did in his best seasons for each statistic. Even though Kamara recorded a higher catch percentage at 83.5% last season, he only produced 5.8 receptions per game, while McCaffrey recorded 7.3 per game with a slightly lowered 81.7% catch percentage.


During his best-receiving percentage season, McCaffrey caught 86.3% of passes targeted at him. That beats out Kamara’s percentage, while McCaffrey recorded 867 receiving yards compared to Kamara’s 533. No matter how they’re analyzed, numbers don’t lie, McCaffrey is easily the most versatile running back in today’s game.


Photo Credit: Sportsnaut

Another reason McCaffrey is so special is that he recorded these numbers last season, so he’s far from a one-year wonder. Sure, it will be hard to match his insane 2019 season, but just coming close to those numbers still makes him the best all-around running back in today’s game. He would still be one of the best if not the best running back in today’s game, even with slightly lowered numbers as well.

When looking at McCaffrey’s numbers from the 2018 season, he still rushed for the 6th most yards amongst running backs while leading in receiving yards for running backs once again. He was responsible for 867 receiving yards that year; the second most for a running back for that season was by James White, who recorded 751 receiving yards but is known to be used primarily as a receiving back. He only rushed for 425 yards that season compared to McCaffrey’s 867.


Saquon Barkley ran for more yards than McCaffrey that season but only had 721 receiving yards. Barkley ran for four more touchdowns than McCaffrey did that season, but McCaffrey recorded six receiving touchdowns compared to Barkley’s four. Players like Barkley and Todd Gurley were responsible for more yards along with total scores, but looking at McCaffrey’s best season compared to their best seasons, his numbers are better all around.

Gurley rushed for 17 touchdowns in that season while McCaffrey in the 2019 season rushed for 16, with more receiving yards and more rushing yards. Even though he trails Gurley’s best year in total touchdowns, McCaffrey led in yards for both categories regardless of year one. Gurley’s most rushing yards in a season was in 2017, which was 1,305. McCaffrey recorded 1,387 in his 2019 season, and even his season where he produced his second-most receiving yards beats out Gurley’s most. Gurley produced 788 receiving yards in 2017 while McCaffrey recorded 867.


The fact that McCaffrey put up significant numbers two years in a row shows how multiskilled he is.



Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Although last season’s numbers do not match the absolute best, he still showed off his convertible abilities and was responsible for 867 receiving yards. The best running backs do not lead the statistical categories every year. McCaffrey has produced outstanding numbers while showing off his versatility by catching more touchdowns in the 2018 season than the 2019 season. Although, he recorded 1,005 receiving yards in 2019, so that shows he did not decline. McCaffrey did not lose any sense of that flexibility he so covets; he is not a one-year wonder.

A point that supports McCaffrey’s case as one of the best running backs in today’s game is his young age with no injuries. Of course, any injury can tragically end a running backs career or cause him to decline out of nowhere, but for three seasons, he has played in all 16 regular-season games. His numbers show how productive he is in those games too. In the 2019 season, he was sixth in the league for rushing attempts per game with 17.94. That did not faze him or lower his productivity at all. McCaffrey is by far the most versatile running back today. He’s hugely productive, making him one of the best, if not the best, running back in today’s game.

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-Kyle Randolf – Franchise Sports Media

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