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Christian McCaffrey or Bijan Robinson: Who Should You Draft as Your RB1 in Fantasy Football 2023?

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The running back position remains incredibly valuable, and two names stand out as potential RB1 selections: Christian McCaffrey and Bijan Robinson.

McCaffrey has been a dominant force when healthy, displaying a rare blend of elite rushing and receiving skills. Robinson enters the NFL as one of the most hyped rookie runners in recent memory after a stellar college career. This article will compare McCaffrey and Robinson in detail to determine which player has the edge as the top fantasy back.

Also Read: Jefferson vs Chase who’s WR1 this year ? CMC or Justin Jefferson as your first pick? CMC or Ja’Marr Chase in the first round? Ekeler, CMC, or Henry as RB1?

Bijan Robinson vs Christian McCaffrey Player Information:

AttributeBijan RobinsonChristian McCaffrey
Player NameBijan RobinsonChristian McCaffrey

Bijan Robinson is the rookie sensation joining Atlanta while Christian McCaffrey is the established veteran in San Francisco. McCaffrey has proven himself as an elite fantasy producer when healthy, while Robinson enters the NFL with massive hype but no track record yet.

Bijan Robinson vs Christian McCaffrey 2022 Stats Comparison:

StatBijan Robinson (Texas)Christian McCaffrey (49ers)
Rushing Attempts258244
Rushing Yards1,5801,139
Rushing TDs188
Longest Rush7549
Receiving Yards314741
Receiving TDs25
Longest Reception7349
Total Touches277329
Total Yards1,8941,880
Total TDs2013
Fumbles Lost00

Robinson was a workhorse at Texas, outpacing McCaffrey’s rushing stats across the board. However, McCaffrey had a significant receiving edge last season. Their total yards and touchdowns were similar, reflecting elite overall production. McCaffrey’s injury issues held him back, while Robinson dominated in college.

Bijan Robinson vs Christian McCaffrey Madden 24 Ratings

Overall Ratings (Winner: Christian McCaffrey):

PlayerMadden 24 Rating
Christian McCaffrey96
Bijan Robinson81

As expected, McCaffrey holds a substantial 15 point overall rating advantage. The key physical and skill ratings all tilt strongly in McCaffrey’s favor as well, reflecting his proven NFL ability. Robinson’s ratings are solid but unspectacular for a rookie. McCaffrey sweeps all the attribute categories, showing his well-rounded excellence.

McCaffrey’s decisive 96-81 overall rating win demonstrates his current edge as an established star versus a rookie. This aligns with draft cost, as McCaffrey is an early 1st round startup pick while Robinson in the late first to early second round.

Physical Attributes (Winner: Christian McCaffrey):

AttributeChristian McCaffreyBijan Robinson
SPD (Speed)9191
ACC (Acceleration)9392
STR (Strength)7281
AGI (Agility)9689
AWR (Awareness)9173

McCaffrey wins key physical traits like Acceleration and Agility comfortably. Robinson takes Strength, showing his power back pedigree. Overall McCaffrey’s athleticism gives him a profile edge.

Running Attributes (Winner: Christian McCaffrey):

AttributeChristian McCaffreyBijan Robinson
CAR (Carrying)9890
BCV (Ball Carrier Vision)9386
TRK (Trucking)6583
SFA (Stiff Arm)8082

Robinson keeps this close with a Trucking advantage, but McCaffrey takes key stats like Carrying and Vision. This shows why McCaffrey is trusted as an every-down back already, while Robinson still needs to translate his skills.

Catching and Receiving Attributes (Winner: Christian McCaffrey):

AttributeChristian McCaffreyBijan Robinson
CTH (Catching)8370
SRR (Short Route Running)8271
MRR (Medium Route Running)7463
DRR (Deep Route Running)6758

A decisive win for McCaffrey here, with large edges in Catching and Route Running attributes. This reflects McCaffrey’s proven receiving prowess, while Robinson was not utilized much as a pass catcher in college.

Blocking Attributes (Winner: Christian McCaffrey):

AttributeChristian McCaffreyBijan Robinson
PBK (Pass Block)6357
RBK (Run Block)3846
IBL (Impact Blocking)4552
RBP (Run Block Power)2240

Surprisingly close, with a narrow PBK edge for McCaffrey. But Robinson wins Run Blocking stats like Impact Blocking. This hints at upside if Robinson develops as a blocker to match McCaffrey’s skills.

Background and Expectations

Christian McCaffrey’s Pedigree

  • Has been RB1 in past when healthy (2019 stats: 2,392 scrimmage yards, 19 TDs)
  • Dual threat with 1,000/1,000 rushing/receiving season in 2019
  • Injuries have limited him past 2 seasons but only missed 2 games in 2022
  • Joins 49ers offense suited to his strengths behind elite run blocking line
  • Versatile skillset fits Shanahan’s scheme; should see 20+ touches per game

Bijan Robinson’s Promise

  • Dominant 3-year college career at Texas (1,830 rush yards, 18 TDs in 2022)
  • Elite prospect taken 2nd in NFL Draft by Falcons at a premium position
  • Expected to be true workhorse back for run-heavy Falcons offense
  • Arthur Smith gave Derrick Henry massive workloads in Tennessee
  • High draft capital suggests Robinson will see 250+ touches as a rookie

Situation and Usage

Advantage McCaffrey

Though Robinson’s potential is immense, McCaffrey finds himself in a better situation for guaranteed volume. He joins a 49ers team with Super Bowl aspirations, whereas Robinson must produce on a Falcons squad starting a rookie QB in Desmond Ridder.

McCaffrey should benefit from Shanahan’s RB-friendly offense behind the 49ers elite run blocking line, ranked #1 by PFF in 2021. The team lacked a consistent running threat last season, so McCaffrey will fill that void. Despite trading for McCaffrey midseason last year, the 49ers still ranked 8th in RB carries and targeted RBs 125 times. They are committed to feeding their star back as both a runner and receiver.

In 2022 McCaffrey had 244 touches, in line with his 2019-2020 workloads. McCaffrey owns the backfield with oft-injured Elijah Mitchell as his main competition. He will be a centerpiece of the offense whenever healthy.

Reasons for Robinson Optimism

Though McCaffrey’s role is safer, Robinson has massive upside in an Atlanta offense that could make him a true workhorse. As a dominant prospect, he is expected to make an immediate impact.

The Falcons had the 2nd most RB carries last season and lost 167 vacant touches from departed backs Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis. They are committed to their run game identity behind a top-10 offensive line. As a dynamic runner and underrated receiver, Robinson should fill that void and then some. He profiles similarly to Derrick Henry, who had over 300 carries in 2020 under Arthur Smith.

Rookie QB Ridder may depend heavily on Robinson as a safety blanket. And if the passing game flounders, Robinson could approach or exceed Henry’s carry totals. He clearly has the talent for a enormous workload.

Statistical Projections

Both backs project for big numbers if healthy. Here are statistical ranges based on their projected workloads and offense environments:

Christian McCaffrey

  • Rushing: 210-240 carries, 1,000-1,200 yards, 6-10 TDs
  • Receiving: 80-100 receptions, 600-800 yards, 3-5 TDs
  • Scrimmage Yards: 1,600-2,000
  • Total TDs: 9-15

Bijan Robinson

  • Rushing: 250-300 carries, 1,100-1,400 yards, 10-14 TDs
  • Receiving: 30-50 receptions, 200-400 yards, 1-4 TDs
  • Scrimmage Yards: 1,300-1,800
  • Total TDs: 11-18

Rankings and ADP

Current average draft positions:

  • McCaffrey – Top 5 overall, RB4
  • Robinson – Mid/late 1st round, RB7

Our recommended draft positions:

  • McCaffrey – Top 3 overall, RB2
  • Robinson – Late 1st/early 2nd, RB5

McCaffrey’s ADP already reflects a bullish outlook. But he warrants consideration as high as 1.02 in PPR leagues given his projected heavy usage in a strong offense.

Robinson’s workload outlook supports moving him up into the late first round rather than second round where he is currently going. Do not let him slide too far in drafts.

The Verdict

Choose McCaffrey for Higher Floor

If you want a higher floor RB1, McCaffrey is the pick. When healthy he is a lock for 300+ touches on an elite offense. Shanahan will maximize McCaffrey’s versatile skillset, making him a good bet for 90+ catches and 1,700+ scrimmage yards if he suits up for 17 games. Yes, health is a risk, but all signs point to McCaffrey being deployed as a true workhorse back as the centerpiece of the 49ers offense.

Take Robinson for Higher Ceiling

If you can stomach slightly more risk, Robinson’s astronomical ceiling in Atlanta’s run-heavy attack gives him legitimate overall RB1 upside. He is the most talented back the Falcons have had in years and should immediately slot in as a true three-down workhorse. Do not be surprised if Robinson pushes for 350+ touches, making him a threat for 2,000+ scrimmage yards and 15+ touchdowns as a rookie. There are more variables at play given it is his NFL debut, so view Robinson as having a wider range of outcomes. But his fantasy upside is right there with Bijan if he hits the ground running.

Christian McCaffrey vs Bijan Robinson

Christian McCaffrey and Bijan Robinson make extremely intriguing RB1 candidates in 2023 fantasy drafts. Their projected heavy workloads provide elite upside if they avoid injury pitfalls. In standard leagues, opt for McCaffrey’s high floor as an established star in San Francisco.

But in leagues that reward higher upside, consider gambling on Robinson’s league-winning potential as a rookie phenom in Atlanta’s run-first attack. Either way, making one of these multifaceted backs your RB1 will give your team an excellent foundation at fantasy’s most important position.

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