RB Carlos Hyde | Cleveland Browns | 5th Year
2017 Stats: 240 carries, 938 yds, 8 TD; 59 rec., 350 yds, 0 TD
In the file of “I’ll bet you didn’t realize”, Carlos Hyde finished as RB8 in ESPN fantasy leagues last year (PPR default scoring). All-around volume drove that, with a career-high 240 carries (11th-most in the league) and more targets as a pass catcher (88) than he had in his first three seasons combined (64) for the San Francisco 49ers. He also played all 16 games for the first time in his career.
Hyde signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent this offseason, where he was immediately set to join passing down back Duke Johnson in some sort of touch split. Then the Browns drafted Nick Chubb early in the second round of April’s draft, and a battle for early-down work seems to be coming during training camp. Hyde’s status as a veteran gives him some edge, but Chubb will get a legitimate chance to earn the lead job.
Hyde was as heavily involved in the scoring area of the field as any back in the league over the last two seasons, with 73 red zone carries (40 in 2017) and 17 red zone targets over that span. That volume can really only go down, and it surely will with the Browns. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a threat with his legs, and Josh Gordon and David Njoku fit the bill as legit red zone weapons with better quarterback play.
Hyde needed volume to push his fantasy impact to a new ceiling last year. His work as a pass catcher was sure to decline the minute he signed with the Browns. Now Chubb is a real threat to siphon off some some carries on early downs, and create a unpredictable workload split for fantasy owners.
Hyde is draftable as a RB3 in 12-team leagues, with an obvious value drop in PPR formats, and it’s easy to point to him a fantasy bust for 2018 coming off what he did last year. But automatically lowered expectations give Hyde some chance (however remote) to exceed them, and thus venture into low-end RB2 territory in standard scoring leagues when it’s all said and done.