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Rookie NFL Sleeper - Nick Chubb


Each year, there are several players who are undervalued following the NFL Draft. These youngsters are often thrust into competitive position groups, poor situations, or teams who didn't invest a first round pick as a glowing endorsement of their talents.

However, for fantasy purposes, the recent increase in skilled and productive players out of the gates means that there is incredible value to be had in drafting rookie players going into drafts. This is especially true for the running back position, where younger players tend to generally dominate early on in their careers, no matter when they were chosen in the draft.

Today, we are going to be talking about Nick Chubb, an electric runner from Georgia who just could be a rookie sleeper that people would not trust going into drafts. Despite his situation, there is tremendous value and upside that Chubb brings to the table which could be exploited by fantasy owners in the later rounds of their drafts this upcoming season.

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Rookie Sleeper: Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

Pros

Nick Chubb has had a fantastic college career. Despite suffering a crucial injury in his sophomore season, Chubb finished his final two years of college with 223+ carries per season, 1,100+ yards per season, and 23 rushing touchdowns. Chubb proved that he was a dynamic runner who was capable of succeeding against the toughest college opposition, even with his lingering injury. Additionally, Chubb was sharing the backfield with fellow rookie Sony Michel and still managed to receive the bulk of the carries as well as red zone work for the team.

Then we get to the NFL combine. With a 4.52 40 yard dash and 29 bench press reps (tied for a position high), Chubb would have been the talk of the town if it wasn't for Saquon Barkley's other-worldy performance in almost every drill. Chubb tested perfectly, especially at his size, and was considered to be one of the top running backs going into the NFL Draft.

At the NFL Draft, Chubb was the fourth running back chosen (following Barkley, Rashaad Penny, and teammate Sony Michel). He was taken 35th overall by the Cleveland Browns - extremely high draft capital for a rookie running back. Clearly, he is part of the Browns plans and will be heavily involved as a runner.

Cons

On the flip side, he was taken by the Cleveland Browns. They are still in a rebuilding process but have assembled an extremely talented and diverse roster of skill position players. With wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, and Corey Coleman (as well as tight end David Njoku) taking up a bunch of attention from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Chubb will have to compete for touches in a crowded offense. That's before we talk about the running backs room: the Browns signed Carlos Hyde, who's no slouch himself, in free agency and have satellite back Duke Johnson ready to take up the majority of third downs.

Another con that Chubb will have to improve on early in his career if he is to succeed is his receiving ability. Okay, Georgia rarely threw to its running backs, but Chubb registered 13 receptions in his final three years of college. Although many fantasy owners, especially in PPR formats, are concerned with his receiving ability, Chubb has shown flashes of potential there and could easily improve that part of his game going into the 2018 season.

 

Outlook

There is a world where Nick Chubb is the second-string running back to Carlos Hyde and sits on third downs in favor of Duke Johnson. In this world, Chubb would likely be waiver wire fodder in the majority of redraft formats and would not be considered a solid pick by any means.

However, if Chubb is able to showcase his receiving ability in training camp, he could realistically become a workhorse in an offense where Johnson plays out of the slot and Hyde is relegated to backup duties. The team didn't pick him 35th overall for nothing; it's clear that he will have a role of some capacity going into the season. What that role will be, it remains to be seen. However, it's time to seriously consider that whoever is the lead back of the Browns will have considerable fantasy value given Tyrod Taylor's ability to keep defenses honest with his safe passing and rushing threat. Although Chubb may not be a start in Week 1, talent could win out for the youngster and he could take the reigns of this backfield sooner rather than later.

With an ADP in the last few rounds of 12-team redraft leagues, Chubb could become an RB2 with RB1 upside if he does become the top running back for the team. Worst case, he is a backup for the team and you spent a late round lottery ticket on a bust. To me, Chubb's ability and potential workload make him more than worthy of a late round selection (and possibly even a reach); he could pay off and become a key starter for the majority of fantasy lineups. Of course, that's all based on his potential and ability, not his situation.

Therefore, I would advise you to take a gamble on Chubb as your rookie running back selection: his upside and draft cost are more than enough of a reason to choose him during your drafts this year.

 

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