Nick Chubb's Fantasy Outlook: Does His Value Dip in 2020?
There's no question that Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL, but the issue for fantasy owners revolves around his potential impact with Kareem Hunt part of the offense for the entire year. The concern was brought to light last year when Hunt returned from his eight game suspension, Chubb's production dropped as Hunt became integrated into the offense.
As Jaime Eisner rightfully points out, the biggest loss of potential production for Chubb may come in the passing game. A decent receiver that's improving, he's simply not as good as Hunt is in that element of the game. With Freddie Kitchens as the head coach, he was unafraid to put both of them on the field at the same time, whether it was with Hunt as a second back, sometimes the lead blocker or splitting out as a receiver.
That could still happen with Kevin Stefanski, but it seems less likely given some of the roster additions they've made, including tight end Austin Hooper and fullback Andy Janovich. The addition of Janovich is another move that should benefit Hunt. Going back to his two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, he thrived with a lead blocker, often operating as his eyes. Hunt's vision isn't all that great and in 2019, the Browns ran him almost exclusively out of gap looks to try to eliminate that as an issue.
None of this changes the fact that Chubb is simply a better runner than Hunt. He also can operate out of any formation or personnel group because his vision of one of his best traits. That's on top of the fact he's been outstanding in terms of generating yards of contact and creating explosive plays. So even when the Browns had poor tackle play and issues at right guard in 2019, Chubb still produced at an extremely high level. The same logic should apply when it comes to red zone carries as Chubb scored 16 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons.
The addition of Jack Conklin in free agency, drafting Jedrick Wills 10th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and implementing a more zone focused offense all benefit Chubb. Chubb excelled when the Browns ran wide zone concepts last year because of his vision and ability to process information quickly, reacting accordingly.
Chubb has the talent to be a 2,000 yard back. It's entirely a question if the Browns think it's worth putting the necessary touches and toil on his body to get there. With Hunt, hopefully looking more like he did in his first two years in the league, it makes it far easier to take Chubb off the field, simply to keep him as fresh and dangerous as possible. He was fantastic in 2019 and the Browns have upgraded the offensive line and should have a far more functional passing game in 2020, so even if Chubb might have fewer touches, he will still be an excellent player and fantasy investment.