At RotoViz, our motto is “seeing is believing.” Our team leverages various internal apps and external resources to make that motto come to fruition. The RB Countdown series will provide you fantasy analysis and outlooks on the top-50 running backs in PPR formats to empower you to make educated decisions on draft day.
Carlos Hyde finished as the RB8 in PPR formats last season with the 49ers, settings career highs in touchdowns (8) and receptions (59) while accumulating 1,288 yards from scrimmage. His efficiency suffered, however, as he had the lowest fantasy points over expectation numbers in his career.
This inefficiency did not apparently go unnoticed by the coaching staff — as the season progressed he lost snaps and touches to undrafted free agent Matt Breida and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Hyde gets a fresh start in 2018 however, after signing a three-year, $15 million contract with the Browns, who let starting RB Isaiah Crowell walk in free agency. This contract made him a top-eight-paid running back in the NFL. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five things you should know about Hyde heading into fantasy drafts.
HYDE IS BEING DRAFTED AS THE BROWNS’ TOP RB
The Browns front office paid Hyde as if he were their starting RB. The $5 million guaranteed in the first year suggests the team is looking for an immediate return on their investment. ESPN’s Tony Grossi believes that Hyde will begin the season as the Browns starting RB and that second-round NFL Draft pick Nick Chubb will spell him early in the season. The margin for error will be small for Hyde, but Browns General Manager John Dorsey has endorsed him in the media. He has averaged 67 rushing yards and 0.5 rushing yards per game over his last 36 games. Yet despite being the first Cleveland RB off the board, Hyde is still being overlooked by drafters for RBs with a smaller statistical body of work.
TODD HALEY HISTORICALLY LEANS ON HIS RB1S
Todd Haley enters his first season as the Browns’ offensive coordinator after a successful stint with the Steelers. It is unclear at this point how he will divide the workload. Although Haley has historically featured his No. 1 RB heavily, especially in recent years, it’s important to remember that for the last five years his RB1 has been Le’Veon Bell. Bell dominated the rushing attempts and receiving targets since 2013 under Haley. Could one of the Browns’ RBs be in line for a massive workload?
THE BROWNS’ IMPROVED OFFENSIVE LINE
Did you know the Browns RBs averaged 1.81 yards before contact last season according to Pro Football Focus? This was the eighth most in the NFL. The Browns OL faced adversity halfway through 2017 after the season-ending — and ultimately career-ending — injury to future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas.
The Browns front office made some significant changes to the offensive line heading into the offseason. The team kicked off free agency by signing Chris Hubbard from the Steelers and Donald Stephenson from the Broncos. Hubbard will be the starting right tackle while Shon Coleman will move to left tackle. The Browns drafted Austin Corbett with the first pick of the second round in the 2018 NFL Draft. These moves provide the team adequate depth to handle any OL injuries. The Browns now have a number of players who can play multiple positions on the line.
HYDE’S INJURY HISTORY
Hyde has played in 51 out of a possible 64 games. He has accumulated a number of injuries in his four-year career.
|Low||Hip Strain||2017 (Week 3)||0|
|Medium||Shoulder Strain||2016 (Week 6)||2|
|High||Foot Stress Fracture||2015 (Week 5)||9|
|Low||Quadriceps Contusion||2015 (Week 2)||0|
|Low||Ankle Sprain||2014 (Week 15)||2|
|Low||Shoulder Contusion||2014 (Week 13)||0|
|Low||Calf Strain||2014 (Week 2)||0|
|Low||Hamstring Strain||2014 (Preseason)||0|
Hyde’s injury history should continue to be a concern for fantasy players. Last season was the first time that he played 16 games. Hyde continues to be an RB that is a high injury risk.
COMPETITION FOR TOUCHES
As alluded to above, the Browns have three starter-caliber RBs and a limited number of offensive possessions. Hyde’s biggest obstacle is Chubb, who rushed for 4,769 yards and 44 touchdowns at the University of Georgia.
Johnson’s presence also limit’s Hyde’s upside, even if he can hold off Chubb for early-down work. Hyde is not known for his ability as a receiver — although he had ample opportunity in 2017, he was extremely inefficient, catching only 67 percent of his passes despite being targeted less than two yards past the line of scrimmage on average.
Johnson, on the other hand, developed into an offensive weapon for the Browns last season. He lined up in the backfield, the slot, and even on the outside. Johnson’s contract extension suggests he will continue to be involved in the passing game.
Although Haley’s history of RB production is encouraging, with Johnson still operating as the main pass-catching back, and Chubb waiting to take over early-down work if Hyde falters, it’s difficult to see Haley using Hyde the same way he has used his other RB1s.
The red flags should be taken seriously, and at Hyde’s current ADP, there’s not much room for error — the downside risk does not appear to be properly priced into his ADP. He’s currently the 23rd RB off the board in MFL10s — a spot that will require a lot of things to go right for him to pay off. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some standalone value, or that he couldn’t exceed expectations if things break his way. But the odds appear to be stacked against him in this crowded backfield.
There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about the Browns’ offense this season. The front office made some excellent moves in free agency and the NFL Draft. Hyde, however, may not be in the best position to reap the benefits, and he is not a player you should go out of your way to target at his current price in best ball drafts.