In the NFL and many professional sports, great athletes are often referred to by nicknames or a convenient acronym.
They’re talked about so frequently because of their immense talent, that there’s a shorthand for bringing them up in conversation. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery certainly qualifies as a member of that elite group of athletes.
Instead of referring to him by his full name, Panthers fans, NFL enthusiasts and fantasy football owners simply call him CMC.
NFL: CMC's stellar career so far
Since being selected eighth overall by the Panthers in the 2017 NFL Draft, CMC has been the gold standard for running backs in the NFL.
He checks all the boxes as a traditional running back and averages 4.6 yards per carry in his four-year career. In 2019, he set a career-high in rushing yards with 1,387 and converted 15 of his carries into touchdowns.
While his production has been elite in his young career, what truly separates CMC from other great running backs is his pass-catching ability. He caught over 100 passes in 2018 as well as the 2019 NFL season.
For context, CMC’s 107 receptions in 2017 ranked ahead of players like Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen. CMC’s 116 catches in 2019 ranked second in the entire league, behind only Michael Thomas.
There is a common belief that handing long-term contracts to running backs is a bad use of the salary cap. NFL running backs are very often considered over the hill at age 28 or 29, which leads to trepidation on the part of general managers when it comes to negotiating their contracts.
But because CMC’s skill set is so diversified, his contract situation has worked itself out quite amicably. The Panthers agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract extension with the running back in April 2020. His contract included $30 million guaranteed at signing.
Unfortunately for CMC and the Panthers, the do-it-all weapon did not have a very good 2020 season, mostly due to injury. Before last year, he played in all 16 games in each of the first three seasons of his career but was only limited to three total games in 2020.
A high ankle sprain kept him out for most of the early part of the season, and he then suffered a shoulder injury once he returned to action in Week 9. A case can be made that while CMC’s brilliance between the lines is the main driver of his popularity, not all of his fans are intensely tuned into his highlights week in and week out.
But the rise in popularity of fantasy football has done wonders for CMC’s reputation. His statistical production has been the reason why many fantasy football players win their weekly matchups. According to sources, CMC is still viewed as the premier selection in fantasy drafts, despite his troubles last season.
Fantasy owners are betting that he will return healthy and put up the type of historic production he was registering before last season.
CMC comes from a football family. His father, Ed McCaffrey, played in the NFL for the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. He played 13 years in the NFL and had three seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving.
CMC has recorded over 1000 yards from scrimmage in three of his four NFL seasons.