Contract Breakdown: Running Back Top 10

Running Back Top 10

By Matt Morrison (@dynastyjerk)

The breakdowns continue as the rookie drafts conclude.  Dynasty Owner rookie drafts started more than a week ago, and the majority of them have finished.  The three Dynasty Owner leagues that I am in all finished between June 8 – 10.  One thing you don’t hear me talk about much are rookies and more specifically, rookie breakdowns.  I usually defer those conversations to Jay and Steve, but today I want to briefly touch on an observation that I made while navigating my own rookie drafts.  Full disclosure on my drafts…I didn’t have many picks and that was by design.  I tend to trade my rookie picks (the unknown) for established players (the known).  I have been doing this in my dynasty leagues for years, and this Dynasty Owner year was no exception.  Without boring you all with the details of my exact picks, I wanted to highlight something that I noticed as I took my only rookie pick in my Beta League.  The observation is this…

The fastest running back and wide receiver from the 2021 class are ranked considerably lower this year than in years past.  Let me break it down…

Over the last four years (2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021), here are the fastest running backs and wide receivers for each draft class.

 Running Back (Time)Wide Receiver (Time)
2018Nyheim Hines (4.38)D.J. Chark (4.34)
2019Justice Hill (4.40)Andy Isabella & Parris Campbell (4.31)
2020Jonathan Taylor (4.39)Henry Ruggs (4.27)
2021Kene Nwangwu (4.32)*Anthony Schwartz (4.27)*

*There was no NFL Combine in 2021 due to COVID.  Most stats are from teams pro days

So, what can we gather from this chart?  The main thing I see is the fact that 2021 is an extreme outlier.  All seven of the fastest running back and wide receivers between 2018 and 2020 would have been overwhelmingly drafted in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts.  Not only that, but most of the seven would have been Top 20 picks for their year as well.  (Hines, Chark, Hill, Campbell, Taylor and Ruggs would have for sure been Top 20).  So, the question remains…why are Nwangwu and Schwartz going undrafted in many leagues, or at the very least, why are they falling to the end of the third round?  The answer is nuanced, but it also makes sense.  The obvious answer for Nwangwu is the fact that he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and will have a very tough road to meaningful running back carries.  It’s also concerning that he finished third among Iowa St. running backs in terms of carries and rushing yards in 2020.  The point can be made…”if he wasn’t even close to the best running back on his college team, then why would I waste a valuable pick on him?”  I don’t disagree with that logic, and I didn’t draft him in any league.  However, you have to admit that his speed is intriguing.  Nwangwu is owned in only 18.8% of leagues at the time of this writing.  Like I said, I don’t anticipate he will receive any meaningful running back carries anytime soon, but he is an interesting speculative add especially because Dynasty Owner awards points for return yards. 

Anthony Schwartz on the other hand should be added in most leagues.  He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.  Schwartz obviously has amazing speed, but he also joins a team in which he will have a hard time receiving any meaningful volume.  At best, he will be the WR3 on the team, and that is being optimistic.  In order for that to happen, he would have to beat out Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones.  There is a good chance however that Schwartz will be used as a gadget type player where he will have plays designed and called specifically for him.  In this way, he is also an interesting add.  I drafted him with the 3.10 in my Beta league, and I was happy to get him there.  He is owned in 61.5 percent of Dynasty Owner leagues.

Regardless of what you think about my breakdown of those two rookies, you have to admit that it is strange.  Strange that the “fastest” running back and wide receiver for their class are being relegated to the end of the draft or not drafted at all.

Well, let’s jump into some early running back rankings.

Running Back Rankings

Before I release these, I want to reiterate something that I preface all of my rankings with.  These are not total point rankings.  They aren’t only rankings for 2021.  They are Dynasty Owner rankings.  I’m attempting to make rankings that are relevant for years to come.  For that reason, my rankings (especially for running backs) may seem off.  I accept that others will have a different opinion than me, and I gladly welcome a discussion on why I’m wrong.  Hell, it seems strange to me that I have Cam Akers over Dalvin Cook.  It also seems strange to me that I don’t have Alvin Kamara in the Top 10.  I understand that may sound far-fetched, but allow me to explain…

RankPlayer2020 DO Finish2021 DO Proj FinishYears RemainingSalary
RB1Jonathan Taylor643$1,957,287
RB2Christian McCaffrey5515$16,015,875
RB3Nick Chubb1151$1,845,774
RB4Austin Ekeler28103$6,125,000
RB5Cam Akers46113$1,543,258
RB6Najee HarrisN/A94$3,261,862
RB7J.K. Dobbins24123$1,432,359
RB8Saquon Barkley12271$7,798,688
RB9Dalvin Cook325$12,600,000
RB10D’Andre Swift18143$2,134,728

Jonathan Taylor comes in as my RB1 at this exact moment in time.  In 2020 he finished as RB6, and he is projected to finish as RB4 in 2021.  His salary is less than two million dollars for the next three years.  Do I need to say more?  He is, far and away, the value of start-up drafts this year and really for the next three years.

For how much value Taylor’s contract provides to Dynasty Owners, CMC provides that with his production.  Yes, he is making over 16 million dollars per year, but if he continues to do what he has done his entire career (including the few games he played in 2020) then he will still be a value at RB2.  If I were in a startup league and I had to pick one running back, it would be Taylor.  If I had to pick a second after Taylor is gone, it would be CMC.

I wrestled with the next two spots.  I have been flipping Chubb and Ekeler back and forth for the past few days.  Ultimately, I decided that the one year that Chubb has left on his rookie deal ($1,845,774) is too valuable to ignore.  Barring injury, I don’t see a world where Nick Chubb is not a Top 10 running back in 2021.  It is actually likely he will be a Top 5 back.  For that reason, I have him ahead of Ekeler.

Cam Akers is a player that I might hear some flack about after this article is posted, and that’s okay.  It’s better than okay.  It’s good.  I want to hear what Dynasty Owners have to say about my rankings, because it starts a discussion and only improves my views.  That being said, Akers is my RB5 right now, and he comes in as the second running back from the 2020 class.  I had a very healthy discussion about Akers in one of my paid leagues (League #27464).  There were some questions about how I could have CMC at RB2, yet not have Kamara in the Top 10 at all.  Most of it probably stems from the unknown.  I don’t know what the Saints’ quarterback situation is right now and that affects Kamara.  If something favorable happens between now and when my final rankings are released, then I will adjust accordingly.  For right now, CMC and Cook are the only two high salary running backs that I feel comfortable having in the Top 10.  This is the question I posed to some of my 27464 league mates…If you could draft a player that gives you 75% the production of Kamara, but he’s one tenth the price, why would you not always draft that player?  That is essentially what you’re doing when you draft Akers over Kamara.  This isn’t even taking into account the fact that Akers is four years younger than Kamara.

Najee Harris is the lone rookie on this list, and I am very excited about his future.  I honestly wanted to put him higher, but the unknown is a scary thing.  I’d like to see him play at least a little before I start considering him a Top 5 DO running back.

Sandwiched in between two 2020 rookie running backs we have two veterans.  Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook.  Saquon has a single year left on his rookie contract.  The contract is still a value, and (like everyone) he would rank higher if we knew big money wasn’t on the horizon.  Saquon is most likely going to make more than CMC currently does when he signs a new contract next year.  Of course, he will still be rosterable and 100% owned, but his value will decline rapidly.  Look for his salary to double next year from $7,798,688 to around $16,000,000.

Dalvin Cook will be just fine as well.  I project he will outscore Kamara over the next couple of years so that is the reason he is ranked higher.  It’s also worth noting that Dalvin makes $2.4 million less per year.

Finally, we have J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift.  Dobbins makes roughly $700,000 less than Swift and is projected to outscore Swift over the next few years.  The recent two year – $10 million extension of Gus Edwards is concerning for Dobbins owners, but Dobbins will still receive plenty of touches and opportunities to stay valuable.  I’m not more concerned about Gus Edwards to Dobbins than I am about Jamaal Williams to Swift.  At some point we are splitting hairs as both will have good seasons, and both are projected to have great careers.

I want to wrap this article up by continuing with my value rankings spiel.  What I don’t want to take away from this article is that TheJerk would never draft Kamara over anyone in the Top 10.  I don’t want you to think that because it isn’t the truth.  If you go into your start up draft knowing that you are going to spend heavily on running backs in the early rounds, then by all means do so.  What I am doing is giving you my opinion on where you can create the most value in your picks, and that is reflected in my rankings.  For example:  I would much rather draft a young, cheap running back in the first round and save money for quarterbacks and wide receivers in the later rounds.  Expensive, productive quarterbacks and receivers will be available later in the draft.  That’s when I want to spend my money.

That wraps up this week’s article.  I thank everyone for reading, and I ask that you look out for the YouTube video that pairs with this article.  As always, thank you for reading.  Take care and be safe.

TheJerk

Gimme Five: An Analysis of the Five Beta League Drafts

Author: Steven Van Tassell

For the past couple of weeks, new and returning Dynasty Owners have been drafting their teams for the upcoming 2020 season. We highlighted the results of the first league to draft (Beta League 3) in an earlier article, but that was just one draft. In total, there are 6 beta leagues with 72 of the most passionate returning owners from the 2019 Dynasty Owner season competing to win. Five of those leagues have drafted (all but League 5) and new Dynasty Owners can learn a lot by looking at the results of these beta user drafts.

All five of these beta user leagues drafted in June with the first league (League 3) picking on June 14th and the last of the beta leagues (League 6) drafting back on June 26th. As a result, these Dynasty Owners didn’t have the benefit of more recent information, such as the signing of QB Cam Newton on a 1-year, $1.75 million contract by New England or the Patrick Mahomes 10-year, $450 million mega-extension.

High Five

In the first 12-team Dynasty Owner beta user drafts, we saw five players consistently be drafted at the top of the first round. Those players are, in order, Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes. Each one of them has an ADP of 4.0 or lower and were drafted in the top five players in every beta user draft, except Kyler Murray who was drafted with the #7 pick in League 1 and Patrick Mahomes who was drafted with the #7 pick in League 2.

The two players not listed above who ended up as the 5th pick in the League 1 and League 2 drafts respectively, were Michael Thomas and Daniel Jones. Jones is an interesting situation and there will be more on him later in the article.

First Round Draft Selections

Out of five beta user leagues, we had a total of 18 different players drafted in the first round. Most of the first round draft picks were RBs (11), with 5 QBs and 2 WRs rounding out the rest of the first round picks. No TEs were drafted in the first round in any 2020 beta user draft. The average salary of these first round picks was just over $5 million ($5,068,669), which was driven up by the double-digit salaries of Ezekiel Elliott ($15 million) and Michael Thomas ($19.25 million) and driven down by the salaries of two players who make less than $1 million (Alvin Kamara at $964,443 and Chris Godwin at $821,041).

In contrast, a quick look at the Dynasty ADP rankings on Fantasy Football Calculator (https://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp/dynasty) shows a total of 23 players selected with a first round pick in 471 dynasty league drafts between April 11th and July 9th of this year. Out of those players, less than half (11) were RBs, while nearly as many were WRs (9). Only two QBs (Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes) and one TE (Travis Kelce) were selected in the first round in any of these 471 leagues.

As mentioned earlier, there are more QBs selected with a first round pick in Dynasty Owner than a regular dynasty league because of the unique Dynasty Owner scoring system. The increase in the number of QBs drafted in the first round in Dynasty Owner comes at the expense of WRs, with fewer of them drafted in the first round in Dynasty Owner. While there were the same number of RBs drafted in the first round, there were two drafted in the first round in Dynasty Owner (Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Austin Ekeler) who were not drafted in the first round in any of the 471 regular dynasty leagues. Both Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette went in the first round of at least one regular dynasty league, but not in any of the five Dynasty Owner beta user leagues.

Fan Club Presidents Meeting

The running joke on dynasty fantasy football Twitter is that if you really like a guy and draft him early, you are President of his Fan Club. Last year, I was the President of the Jimmy Garoppolo Fan Club since I was in four leagues (two redraft, one regular dynasty and Dynasty Owner) and had him in all four. I wasn’t able to draft him in the beta users draft so my reign is over, but think Hillbilly Trash Trucks (Matthew Montgomery) got himself a heck of a starting QB with the last pick in the 13th round.

In the same spirit, I would like to nominate the following Dynasty Owners as President of the Fan Club of the following players. To be nominated, you had to draft a player at least one full round before he was drafted in any other beta user league. You also had to draft him a full round ahead of his ADP. For example, if you took Player A in the first round with the #10 pick and based on the other beta user league drafts, he would have been available with your #34 pick and his ADP was 22.0 or higher, then you’re nominated for President of that guy’s Fan Club. Without further delay, here are a few of the nominees:

  • New Mexico Mountain (League 2) – Daniel Jones
  • The Jerk (League 3) – Ke’Shawn Vaughn
  • Kralj_Smeca (League 2) – Robert Woods
  • Fumbled Dreams (League 4) – Ronald Jones
  • TE Ertz when Eifert (League 6) – Julio Jones
  • Hillbilly Trash Trucks (League 3) – Stefon Diggs
  • CyberFire (League 2) – Carson Wentz

It might have something to do with having Jones as your last name as three of the six guys picked “too early” by one Dynasty Owner are Jones’s (Daniel, Ronald and Julio).

New Mexico Mountain won the Daniel Jones presidency in a landslide as he selected Daniel Jones in the first round with the 5th pick in the League 2 draft when he wasn’t selected until at least the third round in any of the other four beta user drafts.

In the same League, Kralj_Smeca took Robert Woods with the 40th overall pick. That’s a fourth round pick for Woods when he was drafted at the end of the sixth round or in the seventh round in the other beta user drafts. Even with the high pick in League 2, Woods still has an ADP of 66.0.

Fumbled Dreams loves the Tampa Bay backfield. He drafted Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn back to back with the 48th and 49th picks in the League 4 draft. For Vaughn, that was right on his beta users draft ADP of 49.4, but for Jones, it was way earlier than in any other beta users draft. Jones went at the end of the sixth round (#69), top of the seventh round (#73), middle of the seventh round (#78) and middle of the eighth round (#91) in the other drafts. Even though his next pick wasn’t until the 72nd pick, Fumbled Dreams probably could have waited and gotten Jones at that time.

Fumbled Dreams was lucky that he’s not in League 3 or he would have completely missed out on Ke’Shawn Vaughn since The Jerk took Vaughn with his third round pick (#31 overall). He could have had him a round later in every other beta user league since the next highest spot that Vaughn was selected was with the #46 pick.

TE Ertz when Eifert might want to rename his team to I Love Julio Jones. He drafted Julio with the #45 pick in the 4th round of the League 6 draft, while no one else grabbed Julio before the start of the 7th round (#76). At the other extreme was League 2, as Julio wasn’t drafted until the 10th round (#117) in that league.

Stefon Diggs was drafted by Hillbilly Trash Trucks with the second pick in the 8th round (#85 overall). Matthew Montgomery might not have picked Diggs so early if League 3 hadn’t drafted first since the earliest Diggs was chosen in any other beta user league was with the #115 pick in League 2.

However, the undisputed #1 Fan Club President has to be CyberFire who drafted Carson Wentz and his $32 million salary with his 4th round pick (#47 overall). Wentz went undrafted in League 4 and has an ADP of 118.0 in the four leagues he was selected in. Wentz was drafted in the 10th round (#115), 13th round (#151) and 14th round (#159) in the other three beta leagues.

Salaries

Dynasty Owner is using real NFL contracts as part of the game, unlike any other fantasy football game out there. Just like an NFL General Manager, Dynasty Owners need to build a team using real NFL salaries (average salaries based on the total contract value divided by number of years on the contract) and stay under a hard salary cap ($110 million for the 2020 season). So, how do the five beta league rosters look in comparison to all NFL skill position players in terms of salaries?  The surprising answer is that Dynasty Owner rosters are a little top heavy.

Just over three-fifths (61%) of players drafted in the five beta user leagues have salaries of $1 million or more (Vikings WR Tajae Sharpe and Browns WR JoJo Natson both make exactly $1 million), but less than one-quarter (22%) make $5 million or more and only one in ten (11%) make $10 million or more.

In comparison, an analysis of Spotrac salaries for 914 skill position players (available at https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/offense/) finds that just over one-third (35%) of skill position players (QB, RB, WR, TE, K) make $1 million or more, while one in eight (12%) make $5 million or more and just 5% make $10 million or more.

This is probably not too surprisingly as Spotrac includes all skill position players under contract right now, even if many of them will eventually be waived or placed on the practice squad. Dynasty Owners are likely not picking too many of these low-paid, undrafted rookie free agents who aren’t going to make their NFL team’s roster.

Solitary Men

Raise your hand if you’re a Neil Diamond fan and got the headline reference to his 1966 song Solitary Man. I prefer Sweet Caroline myself, but nobody with the name Caroline is currently on an active NFL roster so I couldn’t use that. Shout out to my friends Scott and Kerri Bernstein who are huge Neil Diamond (and fans of the Neil Diamond cover band Super Diamond as well) for being the people who introduced me to Neil and Surreal Neil.

Not every good NFL player will be on a Dynasty Owner roster in every league. There are many guys out there who were only drafted in one of the five beta leagues that have drafted already and probably won’t be highly owned when new players start drafting as well. Here are some guys drafted in the Top 200 or higher who only were selected in one beta user league out of five.

  • Rams QB Jared Goff – #110 pick in League 3
  • 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo – #156 pick in League 3
  • Raiders QB Derek Carr – #169 pick in League 6
  • Jaguars TE Tyler Eifert – #193 pick in League 4
  • 49ers RB Salvon Ahmed – #191 pick in League 6. Admit it, most of you had to go look to see who he is. Congrats to The Replacements for making this bold selection.
  • Samaje Perine – #182 pick in League 3 and big brother to La’Mical Perine, who was drafted in all five beta leagues, but a few rounds higher than Samaje. Through extensive investigative reporting, I can confirm that this was a mistake by the team who drafted him. (Editor’s note: The team who drafted Samaje admitted he goofed up and said so, no investigative reporting was done for this article).

Both Golden Tate and Brandin Cooks were taken with the 203rd pick of the League 1 and League 4 drafts, respectively, and just missed inclusion in this list.

Random Facts

Finally, here are some random facts about the five beta user league drafts that seem interesting to me.

  • Player with highest ADP drafted in all five drafts – Gus Edwards (ADP 274.2)
  • Kicker with the lowest ADP – Matt Gay (ADP 179.4)
  • First kicker drafted in any beta user league – Greg Zuerlein (#162 pick in League 1 by Young Gunz)
  • Number of kickers with ADP below 200 – 7 (Matt Gay, Younghoe Koo, Greg Zuerlein, Justin Rohrwasser, Harrison Butker, Austin Seibert and Michael Badgley)
  • Total number of players drafted in all five beta user drafts – 366
  • Number of players drafted in all five beta user drafts – 239

Conclusions

What did we learn, if anything, from this analysis of the five beta user leagues?  

The first lesson learned is that no two leagues are the same. No player was drafted in the same draft slot in all five beta leagues. While Lamar Jackson is the top rated player in the initial Dynasty Owner Top 300 and had the lowest ADP in the five beta user drafts, his ADP is still 1.2 – meaning he was drafted first in four leagues and second in the fifth league (League 4). Fumbled Dreams had the first pick in League 4 and took Patrick Mahomes with it. With 72 Dynasty Owners, you’re likely to have 72 opinions on what to do at any single draft slot.

Second, if you want Lamar, CMC, Saquon, Kyler, or Mahomes, you better trade up into the Top 5 if you don’t get one of those top five draft slots since they will all be likely gone by the fifth pick. I saw a new Dynasty Owner on Twitter (@tommysavs) who drafted Kyler Murray with the eighth pick, but that is likely an outlier like League 1 where he was drafted seventh. By the way, congrats to him and his team (WLN Savages) on stealing Murray and “what were you thinking?!?” to the seven owners in his league who let Murray fall down to that pick.

With that said, there’s still some consensus surrounding certain things, like QBs get drafted earlier in Dynasty Owner than your regular year-to-year redraft league and most regular dynasty leagues. If you don’t know why, then look at the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system information that appears at the beginning of most of my articles. Or you can read the Dynasty Owner Constitution posted in the app or online at https://9jn.41d.myftpupload.com/how-it-works/ under “Read Constitution” to figure out why QBs are drafted earlier.

No surprise here, but almost nobody loves kickers in Dynasty Owner. The first one wasn’t drafted until the 14th round in any of the beta user leagues and many Dynasty Owners leave them to the end of the draft, just like your regular non-Dynasty Owner league.

For some of you, this article was too late, but others reading this haven’t drafted yet. Hopefully, this article helps you prepare for your initial Dynasty Owner season. If you want more preparation, you still have time to get yourself into one of the mock drafts going on every 15 minutes.

We have more articles coming on a regular basis from Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter) and I. The first of the monthly Dynasty Owner Top 300 is also coming very soon. The podcast series with myself and Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer will continue to be posted on the Dynasty Owner channel on YouTube as well to help you get prepared. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and make sure to “Like” all of the videos to help promote them. All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

Christian McCaffrey’s New Contract and Implications for Dynasty Owner(s)

Author: Milos Ljubic

Hi everyone, my name is Milos. This is my first article for the Dynasty Owner. I hope that this will be good for a start and that I will continue to write in the future.

As I wrote in the title, the subject of this article will be Christian McCaffrey’s new contract. As we all know, McCaffrey was the best (non-QB) fantasy player in the 2019 season and his new contract will be very interesting for the next few seasons.

McCaffrey signed a 4 years extension worth 64 million dollars. In reality this new 6-year contract is worth 78 million. Let’s explain this. McCaffrey was the first-round pick in the 2017 draft. He was selected from the 8th position. According to the rules, a first-round pick can sign the first extension after the third season. Also, teams have an option for a 5th-year extension for first-round picks. That is the case here. In the 2020 season, McCaffrey is under his rookie deal worth 0.8M, plus 2.7M prorated bonus. (For Dynasty Owners this numbers is 4.3M which is the annual amount of his rookie contract.) And as a rule, the 5th-year option for first-round running back who played one Pro bowl has a value of transition tag of somewhere around 10.4M dollars. Technically, the extension starts from the season 2022. When a player signs an extension like this, it means that he can restructure the last year of a rookie deal, the 5th year and the extension. According to the Overthecap, cap hit for the next five years will be 7,8M; 12.5M; 12.9M; 16.3M; 16.3M respectively and 12.2M in the 2025 season. Guaranteed money on signing is 30.1M dollars, but on the 5th day of the 2021 season, that number will rise to 38.2M. We can be 100% sure this will happen.

How has McCaffrey deserved this contact? McCaffrey is the third player in the NFL history with 1000 running + 1000 receiving season. Before him, the only ones who achieved that were Roger Craig in the 1985 season playing for the 49ers and Marshal Faulk in the 1999 season playing for the Rams. He has set a few all-time NFL records so far. McCaffrey is the first running back with over 2500 as a rusher and 2500 as a receiver in the first three seasons in the NFL. He has the most receptions by a running back in a single season and holds a few others records.

The main questions are how does this affect you in Dynasty Owner and how will it affect your salary cap. If you already have McCaffrey on the roster, you are in a great position. McCaffery’s cap number for the next season is 4.3M. McCaffery was the best (non-QB) fantasy player for the 2019 season. He is projected to be the second-best fantasy player for the 2020 season. Lamar Jackson is projected as the first and Pat Mahomes as third. You will have a whole season to decide what you want to do with his new contract. You can trade him during the season if you receive an offer that will satisfy you. If you decide to keep him through the end of a season, you will have the option to drop him for free. Or you can continue with him and his new contract. The more interesting question is how this affects new players. To find the answer to that question, we need to analyze a few things.

McCaffrey is now the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise. Carolina fired Ron Rivera after 9 years and one appearance in Superbowl. Luke Kuechly retired. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen were fired too. Carolina is in rebuilding mode. They gave a 7-year contract to the new head coach, Matt Rhule. How does the new Carolina team look after the new changes? Teddy Bridgewater is the new QB and that is an upgrade for sure. The OL from the 2019 season was average. OL was changed, only two starters from 2019 season will start next season. Carolina loses both starting guards. Turner was traded for Okung and that move upgraded the tackle position. New guards will come off the bench or from free agency. We can expect that OL will be average and this season. The biggest addition in offense is Roby Anderson from the Jets. With Moore and Samuel, Carolina will have a very good receivers squad. And very young at the same time. These three had almost 200 catches and over 2500 receiving yards. Carolina’s TEs group without Olsen isn’t good, but that won’t be upgraded on a draft. Also, besides McCaffrey, they don’t have a decent 2nd RB. This also won’t be changed. Carolina has too many needs on defense, so we can presume that all draft capital will be invested on that side of the ball.

And what about the division? The NFC South teams, except for Carolina, are in win-now mode. The Saints have a great team, but also have salary cap problems. Drew Brees is 41 years old. Tampa changed the head coach and signed Bruce Arians. They added Tom Brady on a two-year contract. And on Wednesday, they added Rob Gronkowski in a trade with the Patriots. They were solid last year and with this addition, it is expected that they will only get better. The problem with Tampa is Brady’s years. He is 42. Also, we don’t know what we can expect from Gronkowski. When he was healthy, he was the best TE in the league. But that was a few years ago and he didn’t play last year at all. Atlanta is currently an average team, at best. Ryan and Julio are on the wrong side of the 30s. Cap space for the next seasons also isn’t big and Dan Quinn will be under pressure.

Where is McCaffrey compared to the other running backs? McCaffrey is the best dual-threat running back in the NFL for the last 10 years, at least. He is still young. In July he will be 24 years old. When this extension expires, McCaffrey will be only 29 years old. His numbers in the previous two seasons were great. This can be a problem in the future because that means that he is overused. Only 3 RB’s had more carries last season and all three combined had fewer catches than McCaffrey. McCaffrey played almost all snaps for Carolina last season. 99,6% to be precise, according to Spotrac. The second most used RB was Zeke Eliot with 89.3% of snaps. McCaffrey had 407 contacts with the ball. Once again, the second was Eliot with 355 contacts. The good thing about McCaffrey is that he stayed healthy in his career so far.  Marshall Faulk, for example, had over 400 contacts with the ball in his 5th season. And in his 6th year, he had a 1000 + 1000 season. In his 7th season, he was the MVP of the regular season and in the 8th season, he had over 2000 scrimmage yards for the fourth time in a row. If Carolina decides to lower the usage of McCaffrey on some 350 contacts with the ball per season, it’s very possible that he can be productive during the next six years.

What if McCaffrey starts to decline with his production? Carolina can release him after the 3rd year, at the earliest. If they release him after the 2022 season, they would save 7.7M in cap space with 8.6M of dead money. If they decide to release him after the 4th season, cap savings after the 2023 season would be 12M, and dead money, in that case, would be the only 4.3M. On the other side, this can be a reason for the concern of owners if they decide to draft/keep McCaffrey on a new contract. If we suppose that McCaffrey can decline to the level of Gurley’s declined last season, McCaffrey probably won’t be cut. Carolina doesn’t have on a roster 35M+ QB, doesn’t have a top-paid defensive player in the league, and doesn’t have CB who is waiting to become the highest-paid player on his position.

Milos Ljubic is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner