RB - CLE
It's time for Nick Chubb to take over the position. After years of being debated as the best pure runner in the game, he finally gets shot to command the backfield alone. Everything about his game says he should be a top-five guy this year, however, my only concerns are the Cleveland QB taking rushing touchdowns, and his lack of involvement in the passing game.
With Kareem Hunt gone, some folks are assuming that Chubb will become a bell cow RB. Not so fast. The Browns want to keep Chubb on a snap count. He hurt his knee in college, and they want to keep him fresh throughout the year. He'll still be the lead RB, but don't expect him to inherit Kareem Hunt's workload. Instead, look for the Browns to possibly make a move in free agency or via a trade. Dalvin Cook and Zeke make sense if they're willing to take less $ and be the back half of the RBBC. Otherwise, Jerome Ford could take over. The Browns intend to pass it more in 2023- featuring DeShaun Watson. While that could mean fewer rushes for Chubb, Watson should upgrade the entire offense. That should lead to more TDs for Chubb. Finally, the passing of NFL legend Jim Brown has hit Browns' Nation hard. Jim Brown was an integral part of the Browns as an advisor and mentor. The entire team, including Chubb, will dedicate 2023 in his honor. With a current ADP of RB 7, Chubb is fairly valued and looks like a solid option at RB early in drafts.
The next time he finishes under 5.0 YPC for the season will be his first, and another 300+ carries looks likely with Kareem Hunt not re-signed
5/5: The draft & Free Agency have passed, and Chubb sits atop his throne with no new competition added. Jerome Ford has some ability & will likely slide in for 25-30% of the work, but we could see Chubb deployed in a workhorse manner we have never witnessed yet. THE RB1 upside
Nick Chubb just put together the quietest 1,525 rushing-yard season in recent memory. The Browns running back averaged 5 yards per carry (again) and posted a career-high 13 touchdowns. He finished the year as the RB6 overall with a top 10 backfield opportunity share (64%), but most of his fantasy production came prior to Deshaun Watson returning to the lineup. During Weeks 1-12, Chubb was the RB4 overall and in points per game. From Weeks 13-17 with Watson at quarterback, he was the RB23 overall and RB33 in points per game. These splits likely won't carry over into 2023 based on Watson likely boosting the offense's overall efficiency making Chubb a near-bust-proof draft pick based on his track record of consistency. Chubb also can capture a more prominent role as a receiver with Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson no longer on the roster. 2022 5th-rounder Jerome Ford is pegged as the No. 2 RB. In Week 18, Chubb played a season-high 75% snap share, ran a route on 71% of dropbacks and caught 5-of-6 targets (22% target share) for 45 yards.
Chubb had another stellar fantasy season with 1,448 rushing yards, 194 receiving yards, and 12 TDs. The Browns offense should be on the rise with Deshaun Watson there for a full offseason and his suspension issues behind him. Chubb should be an elite RB1 in 2023.
Chubb has been quietly dominant in his five years in the NFL. I've been such a huge fan of Chubb since he entered the league it was hard for me to believe he's only been playing five years. If he finally gets a chance to have the backfield to himself this season, and he avoids the nagging injuries, he should project as a top-3 RB. I'm still a bit concerned that Hunt can't find a team to pay him and the Browns end up signing him to a team friendly deal, Hunt would prefer to stay in his home-town of Cleveland.