Few running backs in the NFL carry a higher dynasty fantasy football value heading into 2022 than Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb, given his year-in and year-out success. Should this be the case, and what should dynasty managers expect from Chubb this season as startup drafts continue to fire off?
Nick Chubb’s dynasty profile for 2022
In terms of running backs, few are as good on the ground as Chubb. His body of work reflects this too. Since being drafted by the Browns in 2018, Chubb has consistently gone in the first round of startup drafts and is widely viewed as an RB1 at the position.
Averaging 15.2 PPR points per game over his career, Chubb’s consistency is what makes him so special. Only once in his career has Chubb failed to hit 1,000 yards on the ground. That was his rookie campaign, but even then, he fell just four yards short at 996.
Since then, Chubb has averaged 1,273.3 yards per season despite averaging just 14 games a year. What is just as impressive is that he has averaged 89.4 yards per game over the last two seasons while playing alongside Kareem Hunt. What’s more, Hunt would be a lead back on virtually any other NFL roster.
Going further, Chubb has maintained his consistency and dynasty value when Hunt is in the lineup, which was a concern when the acquisition first occurred. In his 27 games in which Hunt was active and played, Chubb averaged 15.35 PPR points per game on 16.9 attempts with 87.19 yards.
Chubb does see a boost in games where Hunt is not active
As expected, Chubb does see an increase in productivity when the backfield is all his. In the 15 games in which Hunt was inactive, Chubb’s numbers went up across the board, averaging 17.9 rushing attempts for 97.53 yards and 18.36 PPR points.
Chubb’s lack of receiving utilization slightly decreases his value compared to the upper-echelon backs in dynasty who routinely see usage in the passing game. But in games without Hunt, Chubb averages 3 targets, 2.4 receptions, and 18.07 yards compared to 1.85 targets, 1.41 receptions, and 12.26 yards in games with him.
Passing utilization is the only drawback for Chubb in dynasty
This is the only area that holds Chubb back from potentially being the No. 1 overall running back in dynasty for 2022 and beyond. Chubb’s eclipsed 30 targets only once in his career, back in 2019 with 49. In fact, he was one of just four RBs to finish inside the top 40 last season with 30 or fewer targets. The others were RB14 Damien Harris (20), RB22 Derrick Henry (20), and RB26 Elijah Mitchell (20).
So long as Chubb stays on the field — which has been a slight concern entering his age-26 season — he’s as stable of a high-end RB2 as you can look for in dynasty in 2022. If he did see an increased target share, which has always been the dream, he could be the overall RB1.
The consistency Chubb brings is top-notch, and should anything keep Hunt off the field, he could rush for 1,500 yards with relative ease. While he is somewhat capped in PPR formats, Chubb is a walking 100-yard rushing game anytime he steps on the field. And outside of maybe Henry and Jonathan Taylor, no other RB can claim the same value.
Fantasy projection for Chubb
While Chubb did finish the 2020 season in 16th in opportunity shares (59%), he was No. 8 in rushing attempts per game. This is due to the Browns’ style of play which maintains a heavy emphasis on the rushing attack. Last year alone, they were No. 6 in run rate at 46%. This stayed consistent in larger point spreads or neutral game scripts (57%). Running is in the offensive DNA no matter what the situation calls for under Kevin Stefanski.
Could we see more of it in 2022? There is a good possibility. While Baker Mayfield struggled at times with inaccuracy and injuries, the larger question comes down to the receiving corps. Odell Beckham Jr. is loving life in LA, and all signs are Jarvis Landry might want out of Cleveland.
This would leave Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, and Anthony Schwartz as the top three receiving options. It’s hard to see the passing attack getting any better if this were the Week 1 lineup. We do expect to see the Browns address the position in free agency and the draft. With that said, we should expect to see the Chubb/Hunt duo carry the load in 2022.
Chubb is a volume rusher as his playstyle wears down opponents. Barring injuries, he should see well north of 250 touches in 2022. Just last season, in 14 games, he had 248, and in 2019, Chubb recorded a career-high 334 in 16 games. I don’t see this being replicated as Hunt was not around for the entire season due to his suspension. If Hunt can stay healthy (played eight games in 2021), he should be in line for 200+ touches as the Browns RBs maintain a split in the 60/40 range, with Chubb seeing the majority.