2020 was an absolutely transcendent season for the Browns as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and earned a Wild Card win over a bitter division rival in the Steelers. In Kevin Stefanski’s first season as head coach, he transformed Cleveland’s identity into a run-heavy offense that bludgeoned opponents on their way to an 11-5 record. Nick Chubb was a huge part of that success on the ground as he ran for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games. The Browns should once again have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and as one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, Chubb’s talent should shine again in 2021.
No. 3️⃣7️⃣ Nick Chubb
92.9 PFF Grade since 2018 (1st among RBs) pic.twitter.com/0sjaVFD0uT
— PFF (@PFF) June 22, 2021
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Nick Chubb’s 2020 numbers would have been decent over a full-game slate, but he only played 12 games and still ran for over 1,000 yards. He ran for a career-high 5.6 YPC clip behind one of the best offensive lines in football and ran for at least one touchdown in nine of twelve games. The Browns had 495 rushing attempts as a team last year, the fourth-most in the NFL, and they figure to be one of the most run-heavy teams in football again this season with Kevin Stefanski in control of the offense.
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Chubb ran for one touchdown per game last season – could he run for 17 touchdowns in 2021? I’m projecting Chubb to run for 5.6 yards per carry again this season. The offensive line should only improve with Jedrick Wills in his second season, and better continuity overall as the same five starters return. Chubb doesn’t really provide value as a pass-catcher, especially with Kareem Hunt in the fold, so he’s better for half-PPR or standard leagues. However, Chubb is one of the most talented runners in the NFL, playing behind a stellar offensive line.
Nick Chubb will run you flat over 😤pic.twitter.com/cLeBBCjO4I
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 8, Round 1, RB7
Auction Value: $45
Consistency is key in fantasy football, and Chubb had less than 11 half-PPR points in just one game last year. You’re buying that level of consistency at his current ADP, which is currently around the eighth pick of the first round. Chubb’s a very solid RB1 and deserves to be drafted in the first round.
Chubb has seen 15.4 carries per game throughout the course of his career, so he’s a virtual lock to finish with double-digit touches just about every week. Chubb only had multiple receptions in four of twelve games last year and finished with just 16 catches on the year, so he’s not quite the dual-threat rusher and pass-catcher that some other first-round running backs are. However, his lack of pass-catching doesn’t limit his overall floor in fantasy too much, as he’s such a talented rusher with a nose for the end zone. Kevin Stefanski’s offense will likely be among the league leaders in rushing attempts again this season, and Chubb is a huge part of Cleveland’s successes overall.
It’s worth noting that Kareem Hunt limits Chubb’s ceiling a bit in fantasy. He had 198 carries last season, although some of those came in the four games that Chubb did not play. However, Hunt still saw double-digit carries in all but three games last year and is the preferred receiver out of the backfield as he finished with 38 catches to Chubb’s 16 last year. However, Chubb is one of the most efficient rushers in the game and has legitimate 20-touchdown upside if things break his way, so he has a clear ceiling as a top-five fantasy RB this season.
“Nick Chubb can’t catch passes out of the backfield” pic.twitter.com/s8UDkJS0wu
— AUSTIN RICH (@ColtAustinRich) June 21, 2021
Cleveland Browns Offense
In his first season as the head coach, Kevin Stefanski engineered a Browns’ offense that scored 25.5 points per game (14th) and accumulated 369.5 yards per game (16th). That middle-of-the-pack finish was worlds better than the product Freddie Kitchens put together in 2019, and there’s legitimate cause for belief that the Browns could finish as a top-ten scoring or yardage offense this season. Baker Mayfield is in the midst of extension talks with Cleveland and will be deservedly high-paid after throwing 26 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions last season. Along with the two-headed monster in the backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Cleveland has a handful of talented receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. played in just seven games last season, leaving Jarvis Landry as the top wide receiver – he had 72 catches for 840 yards and 3 touchdowns in 15 games. Austin Hooper also had a solid season with 46 catches for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns in 13 games. However, the Browns continue to be a run-first team with Kevin Stefanski at the helm.
Strength of Schedule
Cleveland currently has the third-easiest schedule for fantasy running backs for 2021, with some beatable defenses on the slate. They’ll get the pleasure of playing the Bengals twice, a team that allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs last season. Chubb had 22 carries for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns in his one game against Cincinnati last year. The Steelers are a tough defensive front in the AFC North – they allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs – while the Ravens allowed the eleventh-fewest fantasy points to the position. Chubb could have a monstrous Week 1 on deck against the Texans, who were arguably the worst run defense in the league last year, and the Titans and Jaguars are also very beatable teams from the AFC South. Cleveland faces the NFC North this season, and the Lions (second-most), Packers (fifth-most), and Vikings (sixth-most) were among the most generous defenses to running backs in terms of fantasy points allowed. The Browns also get to play the Raiders, who allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. Cleveland plays the seven worst defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs this season, so this figures to be a strong schedule for Nick Chubb.
Nick Chubb is entering the last year of his four-year rookie contract and will be a free agent next offseason, so he could have the extra motivation to produce in his contract year. However, even if he gets that extension before the start of the season, Chubb will still be very safe as one of the most talented rushers in the league behind arguably the best offensive line in football. Kareem Hunt somewhat limits his upside in terms of pass-catching and overall touches, but Chubb is a highly efficient rusher with a nose for the end zone and is well worthy of a first-round pick.
— theScore (@theScore) June 24, 2021
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