What can you expect from San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde in 2017?
At RotoViz, our motto is Seeing is believing. Our team leverages various internal apps and external resources to make that motto come to fruition. This series will provide you a fantasy outlook on our top-40 RBs according to projected points in PPR formats. My intent is to provide you a line of sight on the pros, cons, and projections for these RBs to empower you to make educated decisions on draft day.
Did you know Hyde played 535 snaps last season and touched the football or was targeted on 47 percent of them? He finished as the RB18 in PPR formats after a torn MCL ended his season. Hyde’s statistical body of work speaks for itself. What observations do you have as you looked at the chart? For me, games played is the one that stuck out the most. Hyde has only played 34 of a possible 48 games in his NFL career. When he has been on the football field Hyde has been very productive.
Hyde generated 0.68 fantasy points per touch last season. Imagine how productive Hyde could be if he stayed healthy for a full season?
Fantasy players have a number of questions regarding Hyde heading into this season. What effect will the torn MCL have on his effectiveness this season? How does Hyde fit in with new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s zone run scheme? Will the 49ers front office keep him on the roster? What impact will free agent addition Tim Hightower and fourth round NFL Draft selection Joe Williams have on Hyde’s outlook? I will address these questions and more while discussing the pros and cons of his role as part of the 49ers RB by committee.
Hyde has RB1 upside and can be drafted as late as the fourth round in 12-team PPR leagues according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Hyde averaged 18.8 touches per game last season and 12.7 fantasy points per game. He finds himself in a new regime with HC Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch. Are you aware of Shanahan’s success with the zone blocking scheme? The 2016 Assistant Coach of the Year has held the offensive coordinator position with Washington, the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and the Atlanta Falcons.
Shanahan’s run first offensive philosophy is a great fit for the 49ers and their offensive personnel in 2017. Shanahan has had a 1,000-yard rusher in five of nine of his NFL seasons as an OC. Alfred Morris is the owner of two of those five seasons. He has never repeated the statistical success of the time spent with Shanahan and is now the backup RB with the Dallas Cowboys. Did you know that Roy Helu and Ryan Torain averaged over 4.0 yards a carry in Shanahan’s offense? Shanahan also does an excellent job splitting the touches with his RB committees. The Falcons offense under Shanahan has rushed for 3,534 yards over the last two seasons.
Shanahan Offenses – NFL Drive Scoring App
Could Hyde have a career season in Shanahan’s offensive scheme? Based on history and his diverse skill set I believe he can. The RB Similarity Scores also suggests Hyde is worth investing in.
This app also provides a visual of the results of what the similar players did after they had a season that was comparable to Hyde’s 2016.
Have I gotten your attention yet? Age and career touches are critical variables when evaluating the RB position. Co-Founder of Apex Fantasy Leagues and RotoViz writer Mike Braude wrote an article last year about the peak age of an NFL running back. He set a baseline at 1,550 yards from scrimmage and eight TDs. This provided a sample size of 154 players who met the requirements from 1990 to 2015. One big takeaway was that players age 24 to 27 accounted for 63 percent of the peak seasons.
David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard, DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, and Devonta Freeman were the only RBs last season to exceed that baseline. Hyde will turn 26 on September 20th. One common thread of all of the RBs mentioned was that each of them received a large workload last season. Hyde is at the peak of his physical prowess and given the 49ers receivers, an epic season could be a possibility. He also carries a number of risks that you should be aware of heading into drafts.
The elephant in the room that I will acknowledge first is Hyde’s injury history. Sports Injury Predictor considers him a high risk with an 85.8 percent chance of injury this season and 3.9 projected games missed. Hyde has dealt with a torn MCL, two concussions, injuries to his foot, both knees, ankle, and shoulder.
Furthermore, the comments and actions this offseason from beat writers, Shanahan, and Lynch have not always painted Hyde in a positive light. The San Jose Mercury News published an article in which Shanahan said Hyde is not a “finished product” and has “a lot more to his game.” Tony Pauline, of Draft Analyst, mentioned that the 49ers are “ready to give up” on him due to his injury struggles. The San Francisco Chronicle also published an article where Lynch mentioned that the 49ers were in a wait-and-see mode to determine if Hyde was a good fit in Shanahan’s scheme. The Santa Rose Press Democrat mentioned that he looked slow and indecisive at 49ers OTAs or organized team activities. Matt Maiocco, a beat writer for the CSN Bay Area, mentioned that Hyde may have to compete for the 49ers starting RB job. The icing on the cake was when Gregg Rosenthal mentioned on the Around the NFL podcast that he could be a surprise training camp cut. How would you feel if these were the conversations about you if you were an NFL player?
The 49ers also signed free agent Tim Hightower who played under Shanahan in Washington. Shanahan also championed Joe Williams, which resulted in Lynch selecting him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Box Score Scout is one of the most impressive tools in the RotoViz depot. The app will use a similarity algorithm, based on a selected set of metrics, to generate a list of 11 comparable players. That helps you to calibrate your expectations of the subject player. You get a range of comps that will give you a better sense of not only the player’s upside but their downside as well. The results speak for themselves. Williams is a threat to Hyde’s potential breakout.
The offensive line is also an area of opportunity for the 49ers. This unit ranked last in Adjusted Line Yards according to Football Outsiders with 3.46 yards per carry.1 The team ranked 14th in Open Field Yards.2 A team with a low ranking in ALY but a high ranking in OFY depends on its RB breaking long runs to make the running game work. This speaks perfectly to how valuable Hyde is to the 49ers running game.
The 49ers offense, in general, struggled mightily. The offense tied the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos for the most drives with 197, but produced a dismal 1.55 points per drive (25th in the NFL). Only 25 percent of those drives made it to the red zone.
These are some of the obstacles that could prevent Hyde’s breakout from coming to fruition.
The pros outweigh the cons in Hyde’s situation. It is difficult to win a fantasy championship without taking a few calculated risks. Hyde is a great example of this at his current ADP.
The 49ers RBs projected for the most points in PPR formats according to our Staff Projections are Hyde, Williams, Kyle Juszczyk and Hightower.
I agree here and project Hyde as the 49ers RB to own in 2017. I do disagree with our projection of Hightower.
The next installment of this series will provide readers a fantasy outlook on Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore.
This article is part of a series providing readers a Fantasy Outlook on RotoViz’s top-40 running backs according to projected points in PPR formats. What was most useful for you? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody. Be on the lookout for the next article in the series.