Cleveland Browns

2018 Training Camp Battle – Cleveland Browns Backfield

Deciphering the Cleveland Browns Backfield

By: Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect

Cleveland Browns Running Backs

Every season leading into training camp the fantasy community finds themselves trying to pick out a team’s starter and others with value at the position. Making sense of it can sometimes be difficult and that’s what we’re here for. This year’s backfield for the Cleveland Browns looks completely different than last season. Out is last year’s fantasy draft darling in Isaiah Crowell and in comes Carlos Hyde who was originally expected to take the lead back role to pair with Duke Johnson’s fantastic receiving ability. The two of them were in position to form a nice one two punch but with all of their draft capital the Browns drafted star running back Nick Chubb out of the University of Georiga making the lives of fantasy owners far more difficult. This is definitely a backfield to watch close during camp.

Starter/Early Down Role: Nick Chubb

Nick Chubb comes into Cleveland as easily the most talented back on the roster. The rookie brings a well-rounded blend of speed, power and balance to the position. While Chubb may not be the starter week one, once he gets ahold of the job he won’t let go. Chubb should be able to earn the early down work as well as the red zone carries on an improved Cleveland Browns offense. What will hold Chubb back as a top tier rookie running back is a lack of production in the passing game. Just like at Georgia Chubb will be limited on passing downs being paired with one of the NFL’s most talented receiving backs in Duke Johnson. Rushing for over 4700 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career against SEC competition Chubb showed he has what it takes to be a work horse back in the NFL and could be a star long term. Chubb may not be a fantastic option right away in redraft but in dynasty he has the (long term) potential to be great.

Projections for Nick Chubb
  • Attempts – 195
  • Rushing Yards – 838
  • Rushing TDs – 8
  • Receptions – 8
  • Receiving Yards – 44
  • Receiving TDs – 0
  • PPR PTS – 140.33

Receiving Back: Duke Johnson

The true star in redraft this year among the Clevelad Browns running backs is Duke Johnson. Coming off of his best performance of his career where he finished as RB12, Johnson has a beautiful ADP of 8.10. At his current price even with a down-tick in opportunities Johnson is still a tremendous value. Catching between 50 and 60 balls will make him a strong flex play and on teams going zero RB it gives them a nice floor at the position. With Cleveland improving on both offense and defense it could lead to less games playing from behind which will affect Johnson’s production. This will make him more of a matchup dependent start against teams with high powered offenses. In closer games he could be a non-factor giving up opportunities to the other backs.

Projections for Duke Johnson
  • Attempts – 75
  • Rushing Yards – 307
  • Rushing TDs – 3
  • Receptions – 63
  • Receiving Yards – 579
  • Receiving TDs – 3
  • PPR PTS – 179.71

Early Season Starter/Spell Back: Carlos Hyde

Carlos Hyde comes into Cleveland with the proven experience and pedigree of being a starting caliber running back in the NFL. With the ability to run the ball between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield he has the potential to be a solid fantasy asset. The problem here is Cleveland spent a high draft pick on Nick Chubb and showed their trust in Duke Johnson extending his contract. There is a good chance that Hyde does start the season as the lead back but any hiccup in production due to injury or just under-performing could end up with Chubb taking his job and never looking back. Right now going in the 8th round isn’t a bad spot to grab Hyde especially for early season play where he could give a team some solid value with upside.

Projections for Carlos Hyde
  • Attempts – 115
  • Rushing Yards – 434
  • Rushing TDs – 2
  • Receptions – 19
  • Receiving Yards – 119
  • Receiving TDs – 1
  • PPR PTS – 88.44