How Mike Davis became Nick and Tyler's favorite player of 2020

Updated: May 18, 2021

Photo Credit: Carolina Panthers

Mike Davis was tasked with the very tough role of filling in for an injured Christian McCaffrey this season. While he didn’t replicate McCaffrey’s production exactly, which is tough to do alone, the South Carolina product still proved to be one of the most consistent dual-threat running backs this season and was a bright spot in an otherwise dark campaign for the Carolina Panthers. He was a perfect fill-in for McCaffrey. He also gained two new fans in Tyler Gallo and Nick Hedderick, who paid close attention to Davis during the season, with both guys having him on their fantasy roster, with Davis carrying Tyler to a championship berth.

Mike Davis was a pass-catching and rushing TANK (Tyler)

Mike Davis has bounced around in his career, playing for Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and now Carolina. He found his footing as the number two this season to the electric Christian McCaffrey, and his role was expanded tenfold while McCaffrey dealt with multiple injury troubles all season long, playing in just three games in 2020. Davis started 12 of 16 Panthers games this season. Despite his injury after Week 17, Davis definitely opened my eyes this year.

While he never surpassed 100 yards receiving or rushing alone in any game this season, he had a couple of games with over 100 scrimmage yards combined, doing so twice, and surpassed 75 in 8 of his 15 games. He didn’t make his first start until Week 3 at Los Angeles. On the season, Davis rushed for 642 yards and six scores, with a long of just 25. He was the master of the chunk gain and getting first downs, notching 38 of them this year. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry and 42.8 yards per game rushing. While these numbers may not stand out, they still were solid for a Panthers team who struggled.

His receiving was also great, as he caught 59 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns, and showed that he could thrive as a pass-catching back. This was especially evident during Week 2 against Tampa Bay, picking up 74 yards receiving, catching all eight targets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw his way. For the season, his combined yardage was 1,015, putting him over 1,000 for the first time in his career. All of these yard totals were career-highs for him, and he spoke about how much it meant to him to Darin Gantt of the Carolina Panthers.

Image Credit: Carolina Panthers

"[Before the season] one of [my goals] was one-K yards, and it's crazy because I asked [my fiancée], 'Do you think this is doable? Do you think this is realistic?' And she was like, 'Yeah, I think it's realistic," said Davis. "But at the time in the back of my head, I'm just like, 'There is no way.' As the season was going and I saw that I was getting close, I can tell you that I wanted it really bad. It's an amazing feeling. I promise you, I can't believe it happened. I'm blessed. I'm thankful for everything."

While McCaffrey will be back as the #1 running back next season, Mike Davis stood out to me as a player who deserves to be a #1 running back somewhere and gained a new fan.

The Fantasy Impact (Nick)

Mike Davis was offered to me in a trade in late September. Miami receiver Preston Williams was the main piece of the trade offered to me, but Davis and Nyheim Hines offered me some reliable options for my backfield.

Departing from my team were Le’Veon Bell and Joshua Kelly. Bell was banged up and not playing anywhere near the level that I expected him to, and Kelly had some solid performances that led me to deal him before he tapered off and hurt his trade value.

The trade in question took place on September 28, one day after Davis tallied 19.1 points (half-PPR) against the Chargers. With McCaffrey out, it was clear that Davis was going to be utilized heavily, much like the team’s star running back.

With my team already showing serious cracks in the armor, Davis shined bright in his first outing on my team. He racked up 19.6 points and continued to prove that he was a viable fantasy option in doing so.

A mere one week later, Davis put up his best performance yet with his 25.4 point effort in a game against the Falcons. He brought in nine receptions, one of which was a touchdown, and rushed for 89 yards.

Although the weeks that followed were “meh” at best, Davis was almost always good for at least 6ish points. That obviously isn’t going to win championships on its own, but Davis was a suitable flex option going forward that proved to be capable of a very healthy fantasy performance here and there.

Davis returned to his double digits ways against the Detroit Lions, putting up a nearly 15 point effort in the Panthers' 20-0 win.

Three weeks later against the Broncos, Davis had his second-best effort of the season. He found the end zone twice on the ground en route to a 23.8 point showing.

In his final two weeks, Davis was just shy of 10 points. Those totals didn’t matter though. What did matter was the fact that a running back that was likely to play second fiddle behind the consensus first overall fantasy pick stepped up and fired off numerous solid performances on a Panthers team that went just 5-11 and tried to find footing during a time of rebuilding.

The Fantasy Impact (Tyler)

September 23 was the day the Mike Davis era began on my fantasy team, and it carried on throughout the remainder of the season. I was happy that I was able to snatch him off waivers, and Davis rewarded me with three straight 20-plus point performances in my full-PPR league. Not only did he slot in nicely for a struggling Devin Singletary and an injured Nick Chubb early on, but as the season went along, you could often find the Carolina RB in my backfield for the week. Even when I got Ronald Jones II in a trade package, Davis was usually there, guaranteeing me eight points or more in the RB2 or FLEX spot. My team made the championship, and Mike Davis certainly was a big part, racking up four 20+ point performances.