Chuba Hubbard Start/Sit Week 6: Time for the rookie to step up

Chuba Hubbard is the guy to watch again this week with Christian McCaffrey going on IR, but can he carry your fantasy team to victory?

Fantasy football managers are scrambling as injuries pile up through five weeks of the NFL season. This week, all eyes are on Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard. He got the start the last two weeks as Christian McCaffrey was out with a hamstring injury. CMC’s injury is more serious than previously thought, as he’s now been placed on IR. It’s officially time for Hubbard to step up, but can he be a fantasy force to be reckoned with?

Chuba Hubbard Start/Sit Week 6

Hubbard might be an easy start this week, but let’s look at what has led us to this decision so we can be absolutely sure.

Christian McCaffrey’s injury

McCaffrey injured his hamstring in Carolina’s Week 3 game against the Houston Texans. At the time, it was described as a minor injury that shouldn’t have forced him to miss much time at all. McCaffrey missed the next two games and was said to be 50/50 heading into Week 6. Unfortunately, that ended up not being the case.

Instead, it was announced on Saturday that McCaffrey would be placed on injured reserve, requiring him to miss at least the next three games. This isn’t exactly good news for the stud running back. However, missing more time will hopefully let him get fully healed and come back at 100% when he’s finally ready.

With McCaffrey out, the Panthers and fantasy managers turn their full attention to Hubbard. Let’s look back at what he’s done through five weeks. Perhaps we can predict what to expect with McCaffrey now officially sidelined.

Hubbard’s 2021 so far

Hubbard didn’t see much action in Week 1, catching both of his targets for 4 yards. In Week 2, the Panthers started giving him more responsibility. He carried the ball 8 times that week, but managed only 10 yards and missed his lone target. Hubbard wasn’t worth writing home about in either game, but the rookie was just getting started.

In Week 3 when McCaffrey got injured, Hubbard received 11 carries for 52 yards, adding 3 catches on 5 targets for 27 yards. This resulted in 10.9 PPR points and made fantasy managers take notice. He was easily the top waiver wire add that week thanks to McCaffrey’s injury status, but he still had questions to answer.

Hubbard was a surefire fantasy football start in Week 4 with McCaffrey out. He racked up 13 carries for 57 yards on the ground and caught both of his targets for another 14 yards. Hubbard was a fine spot start, but McCaffrey was potentially set to return in Week 5, sending Hubbard back to your bench. At least, that’s what we thought.

As Week 5 approached, the news regarding McCaffrey’s availability was somewhat mixed. Eventually, it was announced that he’d be out, making Hubbard a true RB2 fantasy option again.

This time, Hubbard balled out, gaining 101 yards on 24 carries. He also caught 5 of 6 targets for another 33 yards. Fantasy managers were happy with his 18.4 PPR points and were once again wondering if the ride was about to end.

The rookie is the real deal

With the news that McCaffrey is officially going on IR, Hubbard becomes a must-start fantasy option this week — and potentially for the foreseeable future. The rookie has seen both his opportunity and production increase each week as the season has progressed. He’s not only showing why the team drafted him, but he’s making a case for one of the top waiver wire adds of all time in fantasy.

Through five weeks, Hubbard is Carolina’s leading rusher with 220 yards on 56 carries, a 3.9 average. He’s not just a one-trick pony either — he’s caught 12 of 16 targets for 78 yards through the air. In PPR leagues, Hubbard has gotten the job done. He’s scored over 9 PPR points in each of the last three weeks, and that’s without scoring a single touchdown.

Advanced metrics paint a similar picture. Hubbard is RB19 in PFN’s Offensive Value Metric (OVM) with a score of 9.65. This puts him just ahead of Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, and Nick Chubb. That’s some pretty solid company and shows that Hubbard is doing his job well when given the ball.

Week 6 outlook for Hubbard

This week, the 3-2 Panthers face the 2-3 Minnesota Vikings. Both teams need a win to keep pace within their divisions and stay in the hunt. I expect both to pull out all the stops. Panthers QB Sam Darnold will likely lean on the running game to keep the ball moving, and for now, that’s all Hubbard.

Minnesota’s defense is allowing 130 rushing yards per game, 11th-most in the NFL. That should be attainable by Hubbard and the Panthers, though they haven’t rushed for more than 117 yards in a game yet this year. Carolina has been very inconsistent thus far, but they should run the ball more this week.

By comparison, the Vikings’ defense has been pretty stout against the pass, ranking 21st in passing yards allowed. Minnesota is a run funnel defense. Darnold isn’t one to force the ball downfield against tough defenders, so Hubbard could be the beneficiary of short pass attempts.

As long as the Panthers can give Hubbard enough lanes to run through, he should do pretty well in his third career start. I’m starting Hubbard in fantasy without hesitation and plan to watch as he racks up the points. Touchdowns aren’t very predictable, but based on his workload thus far, he’s definitely due. Even if he doesn’t score, all signs point to starting Hubbard this week. Don’t overthink it.

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