Game-By-Game Projections: Nick Chubb (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Ah, Cleveland. If 2019 proved anything, it’s that the Factory of Sadness can destroy even a seriously talented roster.
New head coach Kevin Stefanski will attempt to turn things around for the beleaguered franchise. As offensive coordinator for the Vikings, Stefanski emphasized the run — but whether he did so at the behest of Mike Zimmer and Gary Kubiak is unclear. Until we see the Browns take the field in 2020, I’m not sure what kind of offensive identity they’ll have.
Kareem Hunt presents a potential complication for Nick Chubb, but he never broke 10 carries last season. Yes, Hunt threatens Chubb’s passing-down snaps, but he shouldn’t lower his overall usage by that much. Chubb’s lack of work in the passing game is a larger problem in PPR formats than in standard or half-PPR.
That said, there is some good news for Chubb entering 2020: the Browns added depth along their offensive line. To counter the loss of Greg Robinson to free agency (and drug trafficking charges), they landed both Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills. Also, Austin Hooper is a better run blocker than David Njoku. Things are looking up for ProFootballFocus’ 23rd-ranked offensive line.
The Browns will be able to run the ball successfully in 2020, but they will need to keep games close and not lose the game flow. As long as that happens, Chubb should come close to his RB10 expert consensus ranking (ECR).
Week 1: at Ravens
Chubb exploded against Baltimore in Week 4 of last season for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Since then, the Ravens reinvented their linebacking corps — once during the season, and again during the draft. The Ravens’ in-season changes were so effective that they held Chubb to just 45 yards and no scores in Week 16. Expect more of the same in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 13 attempts, 42 yards; 1 reception, 2 yards (5.4 fantasy points).
Week 2: vs. Bengals
Chubb will get things turned around at home against the Bengals. Cincinnati’s defense ranked fifth-worst against the run last year, and Chubb exploited them for 147 yards on 28 attempts. He didn’t score, but I expect that to change this year.
Predicted Stat Line: 18 attempts, 104 yards; 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD (17.9 fantasy points).
Week 3: vs. Washington
With guys like Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, and DaRon Payne in the defensive trenches, it’s hard to bet against Washington’s rushing defense. The unit ranked ninth-worst last season, but I’m optimistic that Ron Rivera can start turning things around. Whether they’ll start to gel by Week 3 is another question, however, and I doubt that their offense will keep them in too many games. Look for Cleveland to grind out a win in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 21 attempts, 80 yards; 2 receptions, 3 yards, 1 TD (16.3 fantasy points).
Week 4: at Cowboys
Stefanski fed Dalvin Cook the ball 33 times in the Vikings’ game in Dallas last season. He should recycle some parts of Minnesota’s gameplan from the victory, and that means good things for Chubb’s overall usage. He may not get as many catches as Cook did (7), but he’ll add fantasy value elsewhere.
Predicted Stat Line: 24 attempts, 101 yards; 4 receptions, 26 yards, 1 TD (22.7 fantasy points).
Week 5: vs. Colts
The Colts fielded a mid-pack defense against the run last season. To compensate, they traded for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from San Francisco. It’s a smart move, but Buckner alone won’t make the Colts a threat to opposing backfields. Expect a solid rushing performance from Chubb in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 19 attempts, 92 yards; 2 receptions, 9 yards (12.1 fantasy points).
Week 6: at Steelers
Pittsburgh’s defense played exceptionally well in 2019. They ranked first overall, posting the third-best performances against both the run and the pass. Chubb turned his 44 touches against the Steelers into 150 yards, good for a respectable 3.89 yards per touch. He’s a safe bet to grind out some yards against Pittsburgh, but it won’t be enough for him to break 10 points.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 61 yards; 1 reception, 12 yards (8.3 fantasy points).
Week 7: at Bengals
Another Bengals game means another feast for Chubb. Since Joe Burrow will have had some time to get used to NFL defenses, the Bengals should be able to prolong this one, keeping Cleveland’s offense on their A-game.
Predicted Stat Line: 21 attempts, 112 yards; 2 receptions, 5 yards, 1 TD (19.7 fantasy points).
Week 8: vs. Raiders
Two of the NFL’s best young workhorses play each other in this one: Chubb and Josh Jacobs. This should be a low-scoring, run-heavy affair as Cleveland tries to run the clock out against a struggling Raiders team. The Browns may take advantage of the Raiders’ vulnerable secondary to put up an early lead, however, which could limit Chubb’s usage later in the game.
Predicted Stat Line: 16 attempts, 102 yards; 1 reception, 2 yards, 1 TD (17.4 fantasy points).
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: vs. Texans
Houston’s defense ranked 22nd against the run last year. After some bizarre offseason moves on offense, they attempted to fortify their defensive front by drafting Ross Blacklock. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Texans broke out to an early lead in this game, but Chubb should still see enough work before then to return viable fantasy numbers.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 73 yards; 1 reception, 3 yards, 1 TD (14.6 fantasy points).
Week 11: vs. Eagles
The Browns draw the Eagles here, and that doesn’t bode well for Chubb. Philly’s defense looked like a pass-funnel for the first half of 2019, but they eventually got healthy enough to finish 14th against the pass. They shut down the run all season long, however, ranking fourth. The Eagles held Dalvin Cook to just 54 yards on 18 touches last season, so don’t expect much from Chubb here.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 48 yards; 1 reception, 8 yards (6.6 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Jaguars
Unlike the Eagles, the Jaguars hosted a true funnel defense. They were a complete run-funnel last year, ranking 31st in defensive efficiency against the run. Their once-formidable defense has collapsed, and the draft-day additions of K’Lavon Chaisson and Davon Hamilton won’t be enough for them to get things turned around by next season.
Predicted Stat Line: 22 attempts, 134 yards; 2 receptions, 5 yards, 2 TDs (27.9 fantasy points).
Week 13: at Titans
The Titans pummeled the Browns 43-13 at the start of last season, as Mike Vrabel’s team used the preseason hype surrounding Cleveland as motivation. Chubb still escaped that game with 85 yards, and the departure of Jurrell Casey will only make his job easier this time around. Look for Chubb to pop off as the Browns get some revenge.
Predicted Stat Line: 20 attempts, 112 yards; 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 TD (18.6 fantasy points).
Week 14: vs. Ravens
Depending on how well the Browns do next year, this game could have serious playoff implications. The Browns will need to put their best feet forward if that’s the case, but I expect the Ravens to once again control Cleveland’s ground game in this one. It’s a nightmare matchup for the first round of many leagues’ fantasy playoffs.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 attempts, 36 yards; 2 receptions, 15 yards (7.1 fantasy points).
Week 15: at Giants
If you survive his Week 14 performance, Chubb’s date with the Giants could keep you in the race for the championship. Yes, the Giants featured a pass-funnel defense last season, but Cleveland should feature Chubb enough for him to crack 15 points. That said, the Giants’ additions of Xavier McKinney and James Bradberry were not enough to fix their secondary, so lots of early-game passing scores could box Chubb out of the game script.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 82 yards; 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD (15.7 fantasy points).
Week 16: at Jets
New York ranked second against the run last season. Opponents took advantage of their secondary, not their front seven, but the addition of Pierre Desir may change that equation a little bit. Chubb earned 96 yards and a score against the Jets last year, and as long as Cleveland is still in the playoff hunt, he should post similar numbers in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 16 attempts, 77 yards; 3 receptions, 25 yards, 1 TD, 1 FUM (17.2 fantasy points).
Week 17: vs. Steelers
Chubb ends his season at home against the Steelers. I predicted that Pittsburgh would shut him down in Week 6, but depending on playoff positioning, Chubb could see an uptick in efficiency if the Steelers are out and the Browns remain in contention. Conversely, his efficiency could fall off if the Browns are out and the Steelers are competing for a playoff berth. Factors like this are why your league’s championship should take place before Week 17.
Predicted Stat Line: 18 attempts, 67 yards; 1 reception, 2 yards (7.9 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 283 attempts, 1,323 yards; 26 receptions, 131 yards, 11 TDs, 1 FUM (235.4 fantasy points).
Chubb will be a touchdown-dependent option in 2020. If you play in PPR leagues, his lack of receptions will severely limit his overall point ceiling. That said, Chubb should see minimal yardage falloff (he posted 1,494 yards in 2019), and improved blocking and play-calling could lead to positive touchdown regression (he had eight scores in 2019).
His 235.4 projected points would’ve put him 12th among running backs in 2019, and his 14.7 points per game would’ve ranked 15th. While that’s close to his RB10 ECR, it’s not quite what you want out of your RB1. Pencil Chubb in as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 in PPR leagues next year. He’s a much better option in standard or half-PPR formats.