Cleveland has one of many backfields where the roles are not clearly defined. Since running back is one of the most important positions in fantasy football, it's wise to get as clear a picture as possible on every backfield.
Early in free agency, Cleveland signed Carlos Hyde to fill the hole left when Isaiah Crowell departed. Hyde's role was unclear through much of the run-up to the 2018 NFL Draft as Saquon Barkley was commonly thought of as a target of the Browns. When Cleveland passed on Barkley, Hyde's stock soared. That excitement was dampened when Nick Chubb was selected in Round 2. How do these two back co-exist? What kind of split is expected? Also, will Duke Johnson Jr still be their primary third-down weapon out of the backfield? Everyone expects improvement from the Cleveland offense, but can these three backs all be viable fantasy options?
Jason Wood: Our Sigmund Bloom used to be fond of saying talent wins out in rookie drafts. But in recent years he's acquiesced a bit and started weighing fit, too. I've always felt fit and role were critical, and that's why Nick Chubb's landing in Cleveland was so disheartening.
After the draft, I suspected Duke Johnson Jr could be the odd man out. A talented receiver, the new Browns regime could view Hyde as a veteran insurance policy and Chubb as the 3-down centerpiece of a rebuilding offense. Unfortunately, Johnson signed a 3-year, $15mm extension in June which makes it clear the team has plans for Johnson in 2018 and beyond.
With Johnson armed with an extension, his role as the main receiving back would seemingly be intact. Which makes Hyde and Chubb in a battle for 1st and 2nd downs, on a team that has far too much hype surrounding it. There is no way Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Tyrod Taylor, Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson Jr, and Nick Chubb all produce enough this year to justify their respective ADPs. Something has to give.
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