Nick Chubb’s fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

Carrying a first-round ADP in fantasy leagues, does Nick Chubb's outlook match expectations or should managers look for other options in 2021?

One part of the best backfield in the NFL, Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb is one of the few elite backs in all of fantasy football. A first-round pick in most 2021 fantasy leagues, can Chubb return value on his high ADP, or does his fantasy outlook suggest you should look elsewhere for your RB1?

Nick Chubb’s fantasy outlook for 2021

If you are putting together a list of the best rushers in the NFL, Chubb must be included. Since coming into the league in 2018, all he has done is put up ridiculous numbers. 

Amongst running backs who have played in 15 or more games since 2018, Chubb is third in yards (3,557), sixth in touchdowns (28), and fourth in yards per game (80.8). His 5.23 average is third over this time as well (100 rush minimum). However, he has something none of the others have — another RB1 in his backfield. Put Kareem Hunt on any other team, and he would likely be a starter. That he can keep Hunt at bay speaks to how good Chubb is.

In 2020, Chubb rushed 190 times (12 games) for 1,067 yards (5.6 avg) and 12 touchdowns while catching 16 receptions for 150 yards. The downside of Chubb will always be his lack of involvement in the passing game, especially with Hunt there. But when you still have a player on your team who averaged 17.3 ppg and 1.01 points per touch virtually all on the ground, you take that and virtually run.

What is even scarier when considering Chubb’s fantasy outlook in 2021 — he is now running behind the best offensive line in football and on a team that will lean on the running game to move the ball. Volume and rushing yards will never be the issue for Chubb, and I think he could dethrone King Henry for the rushing crown in 2021.

Nick Chubb’s fantasy projection for 2021

Running backs are the foundation and backbone of any successful team. Sure, you could play waiver wire roulette and make it work one out of five times, but that will not produce consistent results. 2021, much like previous years, will require fantasy managers to go running back early and often. And it’s hard to find a safer option than Chubb when looking for elite running back production. 

As I hit on above, Chubb, who has a career average of 5.2 yards per carry, will now run behind the best line in football with Jack Conklin, Wyatt Teller, JC Tretter, Michael Dunn, and Jedrick Wills. 

In 2020, Chubb averaged 2.9 yards before contact per rush, the sixth-highest in the NFL amongst running backs. With road graders up front, that could push well into the mid-threes. Add in the inevitable volume he will see, and Chubb is set up for success. In nine of his 12 games, Chubb saw 15 or more rushing attempts and rushed for 80 yards or more in eight of those games. That’s the floor for Chubb in 2021.

If we factor Cleveland attempting 30 rushes a game and Chubb seeing around 60% of those attempts, this places him at 250 carries. Only using his career average, Chubb would end with 1,307 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns. Additionally, I have Chubb catching 27 passes for 214 yards and another score. 

When all combined, Chubb’s fantasy outlook would be 277 total touches, 1,521 total yards, 13 touchdowns, and 16.73 points per game (215.03 total).

Nick Chubb’s fantasy ADP

According to Sleeper, Chubb is currently being selected as the RB6 with an ADP of 6.3 in half PPR formats. In superflex leagues, he falls slightly to 13.6 ADP, given the priority of quarterbacks. On Fleaflicker, Chubb has a very similar ADP in standard half PPR formats (6.3).

Other sites are less bullish on Chubb according to his ADP. In the pay-to-play National Fantasy Championship format, Chubb is being taken at 12.28 on average as the RB9.

Why you should draft Chubb in 2021

Look, I am not Nick Cage and trying to smuggle the Declaration of Independence in some grand attempt to make you believe Chubb will be good in 2021. Everyone already knows this. You should draft him no question, as his fantasy outlook is one of the best of all RBs in 2020. 

With that being said, there are a few other names to consider — especially those in PPR leagues — where pass-catching running backs are far more valuable on a per touch basis

Other options around the same ADP as Chubb

The first name I would throw out there is Ezekiel Elliott. Before Dak Prescott’s injury, Elliott was averaging 22.1 ppg and already had more receptions in four games (23) than Chubb had targets all season (18). In 2019, he was the only running back never to finish below RB2, and since 2018, he has seen a minimum of 71 targets. Elliott is a top-four running back and one I would choose ahead of Chubb if both are on the board.

The other I would take a hard look at in full PPR leagues is Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. In 2019, Ekeler was the RB4 in PPR. In the weeks before and after his hamstring injury, Ekeler was the RB6 in PPR formats.

Gone is Anthony Lynn and in steps Joe Lombardi, who will use Ekeler similarly to Alvin Kamara. We all know how valuable that is for fantasy. I firmly believe Ekeler is the best second-round pick you can make, but if on the back end of the first and I don’t think he makes it back, I might very well choose Ekeler over Chubb. 

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.