The Cleveland Browns were one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in 2019, winning just six games and missing the playoffs in spite of entering the season with Super Bowl aspirations.
One thing that did go right for the Browns, though, was Nick Chubb.
Chubb stamped his name among the best running backs in the league this past year, which is something that not a whole lot of people anticipated.
A 2018 second-round draft pick out of the University of Georgia, Chubb has become one of the most vital cogs in a talent-laden Cleveland offense that also includes wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
But what is the Nick Chubb fantasy football outlook for 2020?
Let’s break it down.
2019 Nick Chubb Fantasy Football Stats
Chubb was brilliant in 2019.
The 24-year-old ranked sixth among all halfbacks in total fantasy points, finishing behind Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. Pretty good company.
Overall, Chubb racked up 1,494 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging a hefty five yards per carry. In addition, he caught 36 passes for 278 yards and made the Pro Bowl.
It should be noted that Chubb was essentially by himself in the Browns’ backfield for half the year, as fellow running back Kareem Hunt served an eight-game suspension to start the season.
Once Hunt returned, Chubb’s touches saw a slight dip. After rattling off six straight weeks of 20 carries or more between Weeks 6 and 12 (there was a bye week in between), Chubb did not log a single 20-carry game for the final five weeks of the season. Also, he logged just nine catches between Weeks 10 and 17 after totaling 27 grabs between Weeks 1 and 9.
So, clearly, Hunt’s insertion into the lineup affected Chubb’s touches.
2020 Nick Chubb Fantasy Projections
People tend to forget that Hunt was a Pro Bowler with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 and was on his way to another spectacular campaign in 2018 before the Chiefs cut him after his domestic violence video surfaced.
The dude is a really good running back, so you can bet that Cleveland will utilize Hunt as a major piece of its gameplan in 2020.
While this does not mean that Chubb will become an afterthought, it does likely mean that he will not be quite as dominant as he was a year ago.
Chubb accumulated 298 carries in 2019. In Hunt’s Pro Bowl season in Kansas City three years ago, he recorded 272 totes. He then carried the ball 181 times through 11 games in 2018.
So, to expect Chubb to nearly eclipse 300 rushing attempts again in 2020 is probably unrealistic. Plus, Hunt is a better receiver out of the backfield than Chubb, so the Browns will likely use Hunt in unique packages.
Will Kevin Stefanski and Co. straight up split the carries between Chubb and Hunt? Probably not. You have to reward Chubb for how great he was last season, so he will probably still be the featured back.
However, there is little doubt in my mind that Chubb’s touches will decrease in 2020. So, instead of finishing with nearly 1,500 yards on the ground, expect Chubb to be closer to 1,000-1,200. Whether or not he is used more as a receiver remains to be seen, but it seems pretty clear that at least as of right now, Chubb isn’t a big-time threat as a pass-catcher.
Rank at Position
This one is really tricky because it largely depends on how much Stefanski elects to use Chubb.
In 2019, Chubb finished ahead of the likes of Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs, Alvin Kamara and Le’Veon Bell. I’m not sure we’ll see him have the same type of success in 2020.
Remember: Barkley missed some time due to injuries, Kamara was banged up as well and Bell was still trying to find his footing in New York. If all three of those halfbacks end up ahead of Chubb this coming season, I would not be surprised. Not only that, but Austin Ekeler is now the clear No. 1 back for the Chargers with Melvin Gordon gone.
Taking all of that into consideration, I do not expect Chubb to finish sixth again. A top 10 finish is still possible, but it would not even surprise me if he falls out of the top 10 entirely.
This is no knock to Chubb. He is a terrific player, and he will unquestionably be key to any type of success the Browns have this year. But with Hunt getting set to play a full season and with the Browns also bringing in tight end Austin Hooper as another weapon for Baker Mayfield, I just find it hard to believe that Chubb will touch the ball as much as he did last season.