This week in the “Who Deserves Your Rose?” we address the guys who fill out the Browns running back situation. This will be a more complicated love triangle than last week, as we have three very solid players to evaluate in rookie Nick Chubb, newly acquired free agent Carlos Hyde, and fourth year Brown Duke Johnson Jr. Each player has his own unique set of abilities which makes him different from the others. Before we make a decision we must know what we have to work with as fantasy owners, so let’s break down each “bachelor” and to see what he brings to the table immediately and what value he holds for you long term:
Hyde is coming off his best season as a pro, playing a full 16 game season for the first time in 2017 while setting career highs in rushing attempts (240), targets (88), and receptions (59). He did however have a career low in yards per carry (3.9) partially due to what was a poor offensive line in San Francisco. Cleveland also bolstered their line by drafting Austin Corbett to replace the future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas to retirement. Another good sign for Hyde is that he fits the type of running back that new offensive coordinator Todd Haley likes to use, we all know the type of numbers he got out of Le’Veon Bell the last couple years.
Hyde has the early advantage of coming in as a high paid free agent, so the Browns will be eager to see if he was worth the money, if Hyde can capitalize on his early chances then he will be fine and remain a mainstay in the rotation. Last but not least my favorite thing that Hyde brings to the table is he is a complete back with physical pass blocking ability, most rookies struggle with this and Johnson doesn’t have the frame or style to be able to support whoever is under center in that fashion. It may not show up on a stat sheet, but good pass blocking is something that Hue Jackson and Todd Haley love to see from there running backs, this will earn him more reps and more reps mean more fantasy opportunities.
Johnson is the most tenured running back on the Browns, having been on the team since being drafted in 2015. Last year he set career highs in receiving stats (93 targets, 74 receptions, and 693 yards) while only obtaining subpar rushing stats (82 rushing attempts, 348 yards). He has shown that when he does get a chance to carry the ball that he does have potential with an impressive 4.24 YPC. That is to be expected, asan 0-16 team isn’t going to be running the ball a whole lot when they are down, as a matter of fact they had the fifth fewest rushing attempts in the entire NFL last year. This is one fo the reason as to why I actually like Johnson a lot this year, they have a better team this year and that will help allow for more rushing opportunities. You also have to keep in mind like Hyde that Johnson also has shown the playmaking abilities that Haley pupil Le’Veon Bell had and that means he could be utilized in a similar way in this offense that Haley plans to install in Cleveland.
When you pair the explosive ability he has shown with the versatility of being lined up both in the backfield and out as a receiver, he has serious value this year and beyond.
Chubb is coming in after being selected by the Browns in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He had a very successful college career at Georgia, finishing second all-time at the school in yards behind only Herschel Walker. He also unfortunately suffered a nasty knee injury during the 2015 season, but came back came back the following season. In 2017 he split the load with Sony Michel, saving him some miles for his pro career. He is going to be fighting for reps in a loaded backfield where he is the future but in the short term for this season I expect Cleveland to limit his role to better save him for next season. His success will come after this season and beyond.
For the rose ceremony, this is going to be the hardest of any of the positions for the Browns. They have three solid running backs that can make a long-term impact on the team. The player who deserves your rose is going to be dependent on the type of league you are in.
If you are in a standard or redraft league then give a rose to Hyde, as at age 27 and having played a full season just once he’s not reliable for the long term. If you are in a PPR or dynasty league then I would give your rose to Johnson and Chubb. Johnson has shown a true value for PPR while finishing near the top of receptions list by running backs since entering the league. In dynasty both Johnson and Chubb have age on there side (ages 24 and 22 respectively) also adding to there value is Johnson getting a big contract this offseason and Chubb being the first running back drafted by the regime.