No player came out more surprisingly low in my initial projections than Browns RB Nick Chubb. In PPR scoring, he checked in 19th among RBs.
Chubb is 11th in the current consensus rankings over at Fantasy Pros and his ADP sits between RB11 and RB12 depending on your source. If you’d have asked me where I’d rank Chubb before compiling projections, I’d have said somewhere between 10th and 12th.
So why exactly are the projections screaming that Chubb is being overvalued in fantasy drafts right now? Let’s dig into the factors that are dragging him down.
Last year’s Browns ran it on 41.7% of their offensive snaps, making them the league’s 14th run-heaviest offense. Expect them to lean more toward the pass in 2019.
Cleveland has a star in the making in QB Baker Mayfield and, of course, added Odell Beckham this offseason. Toss in Jarvis Landy and David Njoku, and the personnel is in place for the Browns to be 1 of the league’s top passing attacks.
More noteworthy, though, is the arrival of OC Todd Monken. He spent the past 3 seasons running the Bucs offense and clearly favored the pass. Monken’s Bucs posted pass rates of 56.1%, 60.8% and 61.6%. Those last 2 teams ranked 3rd and 6th league-wide in pass rate.
My initial projections have the Browns as the league’s 2nd pass-heaviest offense at 60.5%.
A Target Problem
That’s especially troublesome for Chubb because he doesn’t project to capture a big share of Cleveland’s targets. He finished his rookie season with a 5.1% target share and 1.8 targets per game.
Even after Carlos Hyde was shipped to Jacksonville, Chubb saw only 8.4% of the team’s targets and averaged 2.8 targets over the final 10 games. That’s a full-season pace of 45 targets, which would have ranked just 26th among RBs last year.
With Duke Johnson (who out-targeted Chubb by 12 over last year’s final 10 contests) still hanging around and Beckham arriving to hog targets, it’s tough to project Chubb for a significant spike in 2019. And that type of target volume would make it tough for him to finish as a RB1.
Get this: The 36 PPR RB1s over the past 3 seasons have averaged 75.1 targets. Only 7 of those 36 (19%) finished with fewer than 50 looks. So Chubb would be beating the odds if he posts RB1-level PPR points on last year’s target volume.
A Kareem Hunt Problem
Remember Hunt? The guy who won the rushing title as a rookie in 2017. The one who finished 8th in PPR points per game just last season.
Yeah — that guy. He’s in Cleveland now.
Of course, Hunt is suspended for the first 8 games of the 2019 campaign. We’ll see if he can stay out of trouble in the meantime and then what kind of shape he’s in when he returns. But if he’s anything close to the guy we saw last time he was on the field, Hunt figures to at least mix in for a handful of carries and a couple of targets per game over the 2nd half of the season. And it’s possible that he quickly turns Cleveland’s backfield into a true committee.
If you don’t consider Hunt a real threat to Chubb’s 2nd-half fantasy value, you’re doing it wrong.
Could Talent Win Out?
Yep. And I could be woefully wrong about Chubb in 2019.
The guy is good. Like, really good. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a rookie and led all RBs in Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating, which measures a runner’s effectiveness beyond the blocking he receives.
So even without a big pass-catching role, Chubb might just be so good on the ground that it doesn’t matter. It’s also possible that he shoves Duke Johnson out of the way for targets. Or that Johnson is traded or released before Week 1 (there have been whispers about it all offseason). And if Chubb is really rolling at mid-season, maybe Hunt doesn’t see much action in the 2nd half.
So there are outs for Chubb. But when I’m parsing between 1st- and 2nd-round picks in fantasy drafts, I’m not looking for guys who need outs to reach or exceed value. I’m looking for guys with as few warts as possible.
That’s not Chubb.