Carlos Hyde Fantasy
Running back Carlos Hyde signed a three-year $15 million deal with the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Hyde is coming off one of his most productive seasons as a professional. Reason being? For the first time, he was healthy for all 16 games. Now entering his fifth year in the league, Hyde joins a new-look Cleveland team with a crowded backfield. With an established pass-catcher in Duke Johnson and second-round rookie pick Nick Chubb, what will Hyde’s role be in the offense? And what does his addition to the Browns’ offense mean for his fantasy value?
Browns’ Offense 2018
With all of their offseason additions, Cleveland will have a much more productive offense in 2018. Frankly, they were just so bad last year that it just does not seem probable that they could be any worse.
Starting at the quarterback position, the Browns signed veteran Tyrod Taylor. They followed that up by drafting a future franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield. Initial reports state Mayfield “does not look ready to compete with Taylor for the No.1 quarterback job.” I fully expect Taylor to be the starter in 2018. This is because he brings stability to the position. The Browns in 2017 led the NFL in turnovers. One of Taylor’s best qualities is his ability to take care of the football. He has never thrown more than six interceptions in a season. With this new stability at the helm, anticipate the Browns having more success sustaining drives and seeing increases in scoring opportunities. Taylor’s presence should also be able to create additional opportunities for the running backs.
Being a mobile quarterback by nature, Taylor can help open things up for running backs. He excelled at this in Buffalo when the Bills ranked fifth, first, and first in total rushing yards when he started for them over the past three seasons. Now, this does not mean the Browns will finish that high, but based on their last three seasons in rushing yardage (18th, 18th, 22nd), they should improve. Taylor also heavily targets the running back position in the passing game. LeSean McCoy averaged almost 64 targets per season with Taylor as his quarterback.
The only downside I see with Taylor at quarterback with the Browns in 2018, is with passing volume. Taylor has never thrown for more than 3100 passing yards or 20 passing touchdowns in a season. Volume aside, however, the pass-catchers on this team vastly surpass last years corps. Wide receiver Josh Gordon returns for a full season, along with newly signed wide receiver Jarvis Landry, second-year tight end David Njoku, and talented rookie receiver Antonio Callaway. Big improvements across the board from a skill positions standpoint, it’s not surprising people are excited about the Browns in 2018. However, they are missing arguably their best player from last season.
One of the major downgrades for this offense is the departure of left tackle Joe Thomas. After he departed last year with his triceps injury pass protection became a liability off the edge. As of right now, Shon Coleman looks to be in the lead to start at left tackle come Week 1. If Coleman cannot become a reliable starter there could be major problems protecting the quarterback’s blindside. While the Thomas departure is a major loss the biggest gain is their new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Todd Haley is in control of the offense and has stressed to put his players in the best situation to succeed. Haley has been apart of many productive offenses in the NFL as either a head coach or offensive coordinator throughout his career. He has been particularly good at producing fantasy relevant players as well. As you can see from the chart of the fantasy finishes for the various skill players under coach Haley via FFStatisics.com.
In his coaching career, Haley has coached offenses that have averaged QB15, RB14, WR10, and TE26.
Carlos Hyde’s History
In his first year, Hyde was the backup behind Frank Gore in San Francisco. It was not until his second season that Hyde became the starter. However, injuries began to take a toll and he was forced to miss the rest of the 2015 season. Over the next two seasons, Hyde would only end up missing 3 games (all in 2016). He rushed for over 900 yards in both 2016 and 2017, along with averaging seven rushing touchdowns. In 2017 specifically, Hyde also became much more involved in the passing game. He accumulated 59 receptions, more than his first three seasons combined in the league. Additionally, he also served as the primary red-zone runner. Hyde ranked 5th in the league in total red zone rushing attempts. According to Pro Football Focus, Hyde was also extremely elusive forcing the third highest missed tackles.
He showed the ability last year what he was capable of producing in a workhorse role when he saw just under 300 touches; a top 10 RB finish. He did not only finish well, but he has also been a relatively reliable weekly fantasy starter. Over the past two seasons on a week to week basis Hyde finished as a Top 24 running back 72.41% of the time. That’s right in between Todd Gurley (74.19%) and Devonta Freeman (70.00%) over that same time span. However, his rate in which he finished outside the top 36 was 20.69%. So more often than not Hyde would help owners, but would occasionally have weeks with major dud performances.
Hyde had his best season in 2017 and finally showed us what he can do when he plays all 16 games. Now finding himself on a roster loaded with talent at the RB position what will it take for Hyde to find success?
Carlos Hyde Career Statistics
Why Carlos Hyde Could Succeed
Hyde will be successful in Cleveland because he will be the starting running back in an improved offense. An offense within a system that has produced fantasy success for the running back position. Hyde has shown a floor of a solid RB2 throughout the past two seasons with RB1 upside. Considering a lesser talented Isaiah Crowell was able to finish as the RB14 why can’t Hyde? Crowell attained that on 238 touches, so Hyde should be able to replicate at least that with the starting workload.
Even with Duke Johnson in his role as the primary pass catcher, Hyde will still be able to get over 200 touches. Crowell averaged 225 touches over the past three seasons versus Johnson’s 149 average touches. Not to mention Duke Johnson will also be competing with the wide receivers for targets. Johnson needs the targets to be fantasy relevant. In Hyde’s case, they are more of a bonus. His production will come from running the football and scoring opportunities in which he only has Chubb has competition. Whereas Duke Johnson has all the new pass-catching weapons that he needs to compete against.
It’s important to note that the Browns also signed Carlos Hyde AFTER Todd Haley became the offensive coordinator. The assumption could be made that Hyde was on Haley’s radar as a piece he wanted as part of the Browns offense. Hue Jackson has made it quite clear that Haley is leading the charge with the offense, so Hyde could be the guy Haley wants to be featured.
Why Carlos Hyde Could Fail
The biggest concern for Hyde is Nick Chubb. Many of Todd Haley’s best offenses have featured either rookie or second year running backs. In 2008, with Arizona rookie running back Tim Hightower was heavily featured in the red zone and scored ten touchdowns. Then in Kansas City, Haley featured Jamaal Charles as an all-purpose back in his second year and most recently Le’Veon Bell with Pittsburgh. Bell was the featured back in his rookie season. And even if Chubb is not featured he could still just do enough to cannibalize the fantasy relevance for both himself and Hyde.
In past seasons where Haley did not have one of those main running backs, the running back production was shared. Shared to point where none of the backs held any fantasy relevance. The Browns invested second-round capital in Chubb and his style of play overlaps more with Hyde than it does with Duke Johnson. And if you factor in Hyde’s injury history, it would not shock me to see him go down, see Chubb fill in and just run away with the starting running back role. Especially if the Browns find themselves out of playoff contention later in the year.
Not to mention Hyde will probably not see anywhere near the number of targets in the passing game with Duke Johnson on the roster. If Haley is honest about putting his players in a position to succeed than we will see Duke catch a ton of balls in 2018. Pro Football Focus ranked Duke Johnson has one of their most elite receiving backs in 2017. Considering Hyde led the NFL with the most drops at the running back position, this is a battle he does not win.
Lastly, even with Taylor helping the running game, he himself is always a threat to steal goalline rushes from Hyde with his own running ability.
Carlos Hyde Fantasy Forecast: My Take
Through the several Play Draft, Best Balls leagues that I have participated in there has always been one player that is always available despite the ADP he has associated with him. Can you guess who? Yep, it’s Hyde. Apparently, the consensus is not buying Hyde as the RB to own in Cleveland.
For me still, the upside for Carlos Hyde is that of a low-end RB1. Crowell came close in 2016, and I think Hyde is a much better player than Crowell. Additionally, Hyde will be playing in a better offense and will most certainly have the role as the goalline back at the beginning of the season. This projection should be attainable for Hyde if he can stay healthy.
Of course, this is all based off Hyde solidifying himself as the number one running back on the Browns. Chubb is concerning for sure, but I do think Hyde will get the first opportunity at the job based on his contract and experience. The Browns also may want to use Chubb more as the season goes on, to avoid any “rookie wall” and keep him fresh while spelling Hyde occasionally. Based on his ADP of RB30, I think that Hyde has great value across all draft formats. An RB2 at worst to start at the beginning of the season that you can take in the seventh round? He is definitely someone I am going to target especially if he continues to drop.
Keep in mind, Hyde also has a knack for playing very well at the beginning of fantasy seasons when he is most fresh. Over the past two seasons, Hyde after the first 4 weeks has ranked as the RB8 overall. So draft him then trade him after four weeks while his stock is high. Because if he sustains an injury Chubb will ultimately take over.
How do you think Hyde fairs against his fellow RBs going at their respective ADPs?
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