Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is one of the most talented players in the game and one of the most coveted assets in fantasy football. The third-year running back established himself as an elite fantasy weapon over the past two seasons, but will he live up to the hype with yet another coaching staff in town?
Note: All scoring numbers are given in PPR format
2020 Fantasy Football Outlook: Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb was perhaps the only good thing about the 2019 Cleveland Browns. Starting in all 16 games, the former second-round pick finished the season with 1,494 rushing yards, 36 receptions, 278 receiving yards, and a combined eight touchdowns. This fantastic season allowed him to finish the year as the RB8, ahead of notable players like Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Joe Mixon.
The crazy thing is that Chubb’s season could have easily been a lot better. Chubb scored a respectable eight touchdowns, but his workload dictated that he should have scored some more. According to a data study performed by our own Rob Norton, Chubb should have had an additional two or three touchdowns, based on his situational usage. This might not sound like much, but it does make an overall impact on his projection.
Through the first nine weeks of the season (eight games), Nick Chubb was the RB5 on a per-game basis. However, his production took a dramatic dip after Kareem Hunt returned to the field. After serving as the de-facto leader of the backfield, Chubb’s snap percentage and targets took a minor dip with Hunt back in the picture. Chubb was the RB15 when he had to split snaps with Hunt, and his workload steadily decreased as Hunt became more and more incorporated into the offense.
Chubb saw 20 or more carries in five of the first eight games of the season, and never saw fewer than 16. In the second half of the season, Chubb only hit the 20-carry mark on three occasions, and never hit the mark after Week 12. Additionally, he never saw more than four targets when splitting snaps with Hunt, and only averaged 2.1 per game. Prior to Hunt’s arrival, Chubb averaged four targets per game.
If given full control of the backfield, Nick Chubb has the talent to finish as the RB2 (nobody is catching Christian McCaffrey). Unfortunately for Chubb, he does not have full control of the backfield. The Browns used a second-round tender to retain Hunt’s services, and these two are going to continue splitting snaps. Chubb will still be the primary guy for early-down carries, but Hunt will get his share of the running back touches.
Hunt’s presence hurts Chubb’s overall ceiling, but there is reason to believe he can improve on his RB15 pace from the second half of 2019. For one, first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski should be an instant upgrade on Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski has a long history of bringing out the best in his running backs, and Chubb should be the primary beneficiary.
Additionally, Chubb should benefit from a generally improved Cleveland Browns offense. The Browns spent the offseason bolstering the offensive line, which should open up more running lanes for Chubb and make life easier for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Additionally, it’s safe to assume that Odell Beckham will be better in 2020 given a clean bill of health and a more established rapport with Mayfield. These general improvements should lead to more scoring opportunities, which should only improve Chubb’s 2020 outlook.
Nick Chubb Average Draft Position
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Nick Chubb is currently going off the board with the third pick in the second round. This makes him the 10th running back off the board and puts him in the same area as guys like Miles Sanders and Austin Ekeler.
Truthfully, this is the perfect spot for a guy like Chubb. While he has all the talent in the world and a history of top production, he won’t put up elite numbers with Kareem Hunt in the picture. However, even last year he managed to be the RB15 during games with Hunt. It stands to reason that his production will increase in a better offense with an improved offensive line. Assuming Chubb and Hunt both play a full 16 games, Chubb will probably end the season as a low-end RB1. He’s a perfect selection at the back of the first or the beginning of the second.
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