It’s safe to say that Week 1 did not go the way Nick Chubb, nor his fantasy football owners, would have liked. The Pro Bowl running back mustered up just 66 yards from scrimmage on the day, coughing up the football once and finishing the week as the 51st-highest scoring fantasy back across PPR-scoring format leagues.
Can Chubb live up to his first-round fantasy draft status in a division bout against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night? Or is the Cleveland Browns backfield slowly shifting ownership over to Kareem Hunt? Let’s discuss.
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Nick Chubb’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Cincinnati Bengals
We’ve got good news and bad news for Chubb owners. First, the good news. After a grueling opening week matchup against a stout Baltimore Ravens defense, Chubb is met with a more than welcoming Thursday night tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals finished 2019 allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs. While they did slow down Austin Ekeler in Week 1, Chargers running backs still managed to combine for a grand total of 22.1 fantasy points, ranking within the top half of the NFL.
Now for the bad news. Ever since Kareem Hunt returned from suspension a season ago, Chubb’s grip hold on Cleveland’s backfield has severely lost its clench. Over the final six weeks of 2019, Hunt actually out-snapped Chubb, 236-to-228. Over four of those six games, Hunt either tied or topped Chubb in snaps. This trend continued into Week 1 of this season, as Hunt outpaced Chubb 36 snaps to 35 snaps.
With the Cleveland backfield looking more and more like a timeshare, and with a target share looking extremely one-sided in favor of Hunt, Chubb appears far and far less like the surefire RB1 many fantasy owners drafted him to be.
However, all hope is not lost. Chubb’s history of success vs. Cincinnati bodes well for the Browns running back, as he’s averaged 100.6 rushing yards over three of his four career starts against the Bengals, including two 100-plus yard performances.
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Should You Start or Sit Nick Chubb in Week 2?
Despite Chubb’s disappointing 2020 fantasy debut, he still proved to be efficient as a runner, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. The Bengals defense allowed two Chargers running backs to average 4.4-plus yards per carry this past Sunday.
Their defense was also treated like a punching bag in the run game a season ago. Only four teams had more running back rushing attempts against them than the Bengals did in 2019.
On the contrary, they surrendered the ninth-fewest receptions to the position last season and held Austin Ekeler, fresh off a 92-reception campaign, to just a single catch in Week 1. This could mean less looks coming Hunt’s way.
The numbers are pointing towards Chubb having a productive night on Thursday. Will he produce like the RB1 you drafted him to be? Maybe not, but he should prove to be a rock-solid RB2 with upside, making him worthy of a starting play in all scoring formats.
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