Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is one of the NFL’s best playmakers and, in the fantasy football community, he is widely considered the game’s most valuable player. In the early portion of the 2021 season, the 25-year-old McCaffrey has displayed that off-the-charts value, racking up more than 320 total yards in just two games and serving as the centerpiece of an intriguing Panthers offense. However, McCaffrey’s 2020 season was marred by injury and, in the first half of Thursday’s Week 3 tilt against the Houston Texans, the former All-Pro running back suffered a hamstring issue that will sideline him for the rest of the evening.
McCaffrey had five touches for 40 yards before leaving in the second quarter, and at this juncture, it is impossible to know how long he will be out of action. After appearing in every single game over his first three seasons in Carolina, McCaffrey missed 13 of 16 games last season with injuries to his ankle, quadriceps and shoulder. As such, the hamstring was not an issue last season, which could be encouraging, but soft tissue injuries can significantly hamper skill-position players that need to be explosive in space.
With McCaffrey sidelined, the Panthers can turn to Chuba Hubbard, a rookie from Oklahoma State, or veteran Royce Freeman. Hubbard is the only running back other than McCaffrey to have a carry in the first two weeks, and he was a highly productive player in the Big 12. Still, it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to replicate the production of McCaffrey, and Panthers fans will be holding their collective breath until a diagnosis emerges.