In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest fantasy football news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.
The Cleveland Browns seem to have annual offseason hype. There’s no question the talent of their offensive skill-position players, but either poor quarterback play, poor coaching, or some combination of the two seem to dampen the excitement. Unfortunately, this season began no differently. With many eyes on the backfield, Kareem Hunt topped teammate Nick Chubb in nearly every category.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt out-touched starter Nick Chubb in a 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. Hunt carried the ball 13 times for 72 yards and added four receptions for nine yards in the lopsided loss. Meanwhile, Chubb only logged 11 touches and lost a fumble along the way. While Hunt seeing a larger workload than Chubb may have been a result of the Browns playing from behind all afternoon, that never happened in the eight games the two backs played in together in 2019.
Hunt and Chubb Should Have Been Valued in the Same Area
The story is well-known but worth telling again, especially with a new season underway. Hunt was suspended for the first half of last season. When he returned, he essentially operated as the third receiving option for the Browns. His usage in the passing game afforded him a safe, predictable floor and fantasy owners took notice.
Chubb, falling just short of a rushing title last season, tangibly suffered once Hunt returned to the field. Not known for his pass-catching on a good day, Chubb’s targets nearly evaporated. The splits are eye-opening and factored heavily into my attempt to decode the Browns backfield before the start of the season.
Week 1 did not go well for the Browns. They were blitzed by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens and played from behind for most of the afternoon. The negative game script likely played into it, but Hunt had more rushing attempts (13 to 10) and more targets (6 to 1) than Chubb. Kevin Stefanski, the new head coach who came over from the Minnesota Vikings after helping Dalvin Cook erupt last season, is known for his run-centric approach. Closer games in the future should lead to more rushing attempts for Chubb, but the early returns are not promising.
Curtis Patrick tabbed Hunt as having league-bending upside for his fifth-round draft price and called him a must-draft running backs. Based on previous usage and his performance in Week 1, Hunt appears locked into a defined role. His recent contract extension of two years, $13.25 million signifies the team has plans for him as well.
RB Strength of Schedule – Week 2-5
According to our Strength of Schedule Streaming tool, the Browns backfield has a top-10 schedule over their next four matchups. Both Chubb and Hunt should continue to see usage, but Hunt is in much better position to pay off for his owners.