Christian McCaffrey is a great MVP value play at +8,000
McCaffrey scored 10 touchdowns in 11 regular season games with the Niners. Photo by Tony Avelar/AP.

Running backs don't win the NFL's MVP award often, but Christian McCaffrey isn't your typical running back.

Quarterbacks have taken 14 of the past 15 awards — Adrian Peterson (2012) was the outlier. But we would argue McCaffrey is more dynamic than Peterson and a +8,000 price can't be ignored.

Let's take a look at why McCaffrey is a great value play to win NFL MVP in the 2023 NFL season.

Christian McCaffrey MVP case

Christian McCaffrey MVP odds: +8,000. Click here to bet

Patrick Mahomes won this award last year after throwing for 5,250 yards with 41 touchdowns. McCaffrey can't do that (obviously), but no one can really do what McCaffrey does, either.

The running back was traded to San Francisco in late October and made an immediate impact after his first full week of practice with the team. He rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown, caught eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, and threw a touchdown.

He was the first player since LaDanian Tomlinson in 2005 to achieve that feat. And here's a fun little stat: LT won the MVP the following season.

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Excluding his first game with the Niners where he played two days following the trade, McCaffrey averaged 70.8 rushing yards and 44.0 receiving yards per game and scored 10 touchdowns. San Francisco won all 10 games.

Imagine what those numbers will look like across a full season.

Click linked odds below to add selection to betslip. Note: Lines have changed/market no longer available if grey.

Christian McCaffrey marketsBetting odds
Over 7.5 rushing TDs+110
Under 7.5 rushing TDs-137
Over 900.5 rushing yards-112
Under 900.5 rushing yards-112
Over 600.5 receiving yards-112
Under 600.5 receiving yards-112
Over 1500.5 rushing and receiving yards-112
Over 1500.5 rushing and receiving yards-112

NFL odds as of 12:46 p.m. ET on 08/24/2023.

Christian McCaffrey MVP case: A modern-day bell cow

McCaffrey isn't a traditional "bell cow" back. He's not going to average 20 carries per game or run six straight HB draws. But he is going to play — a lot.

From Week 8 onwards, CMC was on the field for at least 60% of the Niners' offensive snaps all but once. He was on the field for 70% of San Francisco's snaps in six of those 10 games and cleared the 80% mark four times.

For context, Nick Chubb was only on the field for 60% of the Browns' snaps four times all season (and only cleared the 70% mark twice).

Kyle Shanahan's offence revolved around McCaffrey and there's no reason to believe that won't continue. The team has elite skill players at all positions but CMC is unquestionably the guy on that side of the ball.

In the final 10 games of the season, he averaged 19.7 touches (14.1 rush, 5.6 receptions) per game.

How much better were the Niners with CMC?

San Francisco's 10-game win streak to close the season perfectly coincided with McCaffrey's integration into the offence.

The team averaged 30.5 PPG in that span, winning by an average of 15.9 points. The seven games prior, the Niners went 3-4, averaging just 20.71 PPG.

It would be a tad reductive to boil all of that success down to one player. San Francisco's opponents weren't the toughest but the team still averaged nearly 10 more points per game with McCaffrey leading the charge.

Brock Purdy did take the reins under centre for the final seven games of that streak, completing 67.1% of passes with 13 touchdowns to four interceptions. But that just goes to show how dominant Shanahan's CMC-based offence was.

Purdy's story is captivating, no doubt, but he's far from a top-10 quarterback. If he can recapture last year's magic, great. But if he can't, that's fine too.

This team is elite thanks to its defence and Shanahan's system, which would work with most players under centre.

Speaking of the defence, it held opponents to a league-low 16.3 points and 300.6 yards per game last season. That unit is still the league's best, meaning San Francisco should dominate possession, giving CMC plenty of touches.

Bet on McCaffrey to put up video-game-like numbers as a result.

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