The 2017 RB Championship: (3) Christian McCaffrey vs (5) D’Onta Foreman

The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.

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(3) Christian McCaffrey vs (5) D’Onta Foreman

Here it is: one RB matchup to rule them all. On one side we have the versatile McCaffrey, who handled a monster workload at Stanford and was an impact player in all phases of the game. On the other, there is Foreman, herculean in size and coming off of an incredibly productive 2016 campaign. Both have done a great job to make it to this point, but there can only be one winner. Let’s see who the RotoViz staff will choose as champion.

McCaffrey vs Foreman

Matthew Freedman – D’Onta Foreman: I’ve recently looked more carefully at running backs who as prospects were comparable to McCaffrey. First of all, there aren’t many of them. Second of all, most of them have turned out to be pretty good NFL players. (I’m still waiting on Bishop Sankey.) Anyway, now I think that in terms of age-adjusted production and size-adjusted athleticism McCaffrey is pretty comparable to LeSean McCoy (except perhaps more athletic and probably better as a receiver). That’s an inspiring comp. Still, McCaffrey is expensive. Foreman will be cheaper, he’s just as young as McCaffrey, he’s more productive as a runner, he’s a freak athlete, and he’s built like an NFL workhorse. Give me the arbitrage Leonard Fournette.

Shawn Siegele – Christian McCaffrey: I love Foreman and have great faith in Kevin Cole’s work suggesting he’s the stud RB in this class. The models also reinforce what we can already surmise. McCaffrey isn’t a shimmering chimera of Barry SandersBo Jackson, and Jamaal Charles. He’s a little on the light side, and his 40, while playable, isn’t elite. But McCaffrey is my favorite style of NFL back, a space player with almost impossible lateral agility who’s also proven his ability to handle big workloads.

Matt Wispe – Christian McCaffrey: The difference between these two players is probably their respective floors. Foreman’s NFL draft stock is still a relative question mark while McCaffrey is likely a mid to late first round pick. Because of his quicker path to opportunity, McCaffrey is the choice.

Jordan Hoover – Christian McCaffrey: I love Foreman’s speed, size, and final-year production. He’s performed superbly in both RB Success Models here at Rotoviz and likely affords an arbitrage opportunity compared to some of the top-tier RBs in this class. But in the end, I want the RBs on my rosters to have pass-catching ability. McCaffrey has that, plus incredible agility, youth, and impressive final-season college production — 0.74 msRUYDS and 0.18 msRECYDS. He’s pretty clearly going to cost more to acquire compared, but you’re paying for a prospect who could start immediately and likely play in every conceivable down-and-distance situation.

Blair Andrews – D’Onta Foreman: It would appear McCaffrey has a clearer path to opportunity. But is it that hard to see how he could be relegated to a third-down role? We worry that Foreman may leave the field on third down since he did not catch many passes at Texas, but it’s becoming clear that this had more to do with the Texas offense than with Foreman’s pass-catching ability. He reportedly excelled in the pass-catching drills at his pro day, and PFF grades him as the best pass-blocking running back in the class. Plus he’s huge and fast. So it may actually be Foreman, not McCaffrey, who has an easier time staying on the field. In that light, they probably have similar floors. Therefore I’m going with the cheaper guy.

Tyler Buecher – Christian McCaffrey: All due respect to Foreman, I’m buying into the surrounding hype of McCaffery as a running back that should be able to carve out an immediate role in PPR formats with a chance to be a workhorse back in this league. After breaking Sanders’ NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season (2015), McCaffrey went on to tear up the combine posting a 6.57 time in the three-cone (97th percentile) and an 11.03 time in the 60-yard shuttle (96th percentile). McCaffery’s athleticism, collegiate production, and receiving versatility should garner him an immediate role as a fantasy asset.

Anthony Amico – D’Onta Foreman: When the RotoViz pre-draft rookie rankings come out next week, you will see that McCaffrey is my top RB prospect. What you will also see is Foreman ranked second. The Texas stud broke the RB Prospect Lab, with a perfect score of 100, putting him in truly elite prospect territory.

While his collegiate pass game usage doesn’t reflect an outcome of a true workhorse, it is important to note that a lack of usage there doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the skills to do it.1 Even if Foreman is just Michael Turner, that would yield multiple RB1 seasons with the right team. Oh, and he’s going to cost at least half a round less than McCaffrey.

Scott Smith – Christian McCaffrey: It would be blasphemous for me not to pick McCaffrey. I feel he is the safest player in the draft and could even be transcendent. McCaffrey’s production matches his tape with his athleticism being confirmed at the combine. Add in his likely first-round draft slot, and he is damn near the perfect PPR prospect. The one knock on Run-CMC is that people doubt his ability to be a workhorse – that may be the one place Foreman has an edge – but McCaffrey handled a bunch of touches in college so I’m not worried. Foreman simply has too many holes in comparison. Truthfully, none of what I just said matters…I simply fear the retribution of Matt Kelley if I were to pick Foreman.

Charlie Kleinheksel – Christian McCaffrey: I’m not sure I would have chosen these two backs to make it to the finals, but since they’re here, I’ll take McCaffrey. He should be drafted higher which should mean more immediate opportunity. At the RB position that’s enough to beat Foreman.2

Heith Krueger – Christian McCaffrey: While I understand people’s reservations when it comes to McCaffrey, I don’t find this matchup particularly close. McCaffrey is smaller of course, but it’s not unheard of for an RB of his stature to be a workhorse. He exhibited true workhorse potential with the incredible touch numbers he racked up at Stanford. Additionally, he faced the most eight-defender boxes of any of the top 20 backs this season and still produced. Couple this with his fantastic receiving ability, and I’ll take him every time over a player who only showed little receiving ability in his one season of quality production at Texas.

Final Results

This matchup ended up being a bit of a blowout, and the RotoViz RB championship goes to McCaffrey. Despite his lofty price tag, our writers prefer the exhibited dual-threat skills of the Stanford alum. McCaffrey boasts great agility and multiple years of production. It will be interesting to see just how high he ends up going in rookie drafts, but this exercise shows that he should be a priority target.

How they got here: 

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  1. I’m obliged to mention that LaDainian Tomlinson only had 0.9 receptions in his final season, and he was a prolific receiver.  (back)
  2. But McCaffrey is no slouch. His dynamic ability and production as both a receiver and returner should keep him active and earn him plenty of opportunity.  (back)
By Anthony Amico | @amicsta | Archive

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