This week my co-worker, Jeff Krisko, is going back to his week one fantasy football pick of starting Ameer Abdullah. While I own many shares of Ameer Abdullah and like his overall prospects for the season, this week I am going back to my week one fantasy football pick of the Carolina Panthers backfield, but this time I’m going to start Christian McCaffrey.
On the surface, Ameer Abdullah looks like the smart fantasy football play. However, there are reasons to be wary of playing Abdullah. To date, the Atlanta Falcons have given up the third most fantasy points to running backs. On the surface, this points to Ameer Abdullah having a great game. However, it is important to note that 50% of those points have gone to receiving backs. That means that Abdullah is going to be splitting his opportunities equally with Theo Riddick.
So while I like Ameer Abdullah and think he has a pretty good match up this week, I think his potential ceiling for this week is capped by Theo Riddick. If you are looking for a running back with a a high floor AND a high ceiling, you should look no further and start Christian McCaffrey.
Two weeks into the season, McCaffrey has been on the field for 91 snaps, compared to Jonathan Stewart’s 55. That means he is on the field more than 65% that Jonathan Stewart is. And the more he is on the field, the more opportunities he will have to exploit a New Orleans defense that has given up the 4th most fantasy points to running backs this season.
Delving further into those numbers. 53% of the points that New Orleans gives up to running backs is in the passing game. So like the Falcons above, the Saints are very susceptible to a pass catching running back. The difference between McCaffrey and Abdullah is that McCaffrey is getting all the primary looks receiving the ball AND splitting carries in the backfield.
So if you want to play it safe, go ahead and start Ameer Abdullah this week. He should do pretty well. But if you need to hit a home run with your running back match up, then your clear choice is to start Christian McCaffrey at running back.