Is Nick Chubb a Top 5 Back?

Troy King breaks down Nick Chubb's NFL career and explains why Nick Chubb can finish in the Top 5 in 2021.

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“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Last year, the Cleveland Browns were one of the most improved offensive teams. According to Football Outsiders, The Browns DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) improved from 20th in 2019 to 9th in 2020. A massive improvement in rushing yards was the main contributing factor; the Browns ranked 3rd overall. Nick Chubb has cemented himself as one of the best running backs in football. Chubb finished 7th among running backs with 1,067 rushing yards despite only playing 12 games. He's finished RB17, RB8, and RB11 over his first three seasons, but 2021 will mark his ascendance into the Top 5.

“CHUBBa-CHUBBa, Choo-Choo”

Even though his target share as a receiver is capped by fellow running-back Kareem Hunt, Chubb continues to produce consistent RB1 numbers.

In 2019, Chubb finished 12th in points per game and 2nd in total rushing with 1,494 yards, just behind Derrick Henry. He finished as a top-12 fantasy back in 12 games, fourth-best among qualified runners. In 2020, Chubb finished 11th overall in PPR and 9th in points per game. His 12 touchdowns were a career-high in only 12 games. He had six top-12 fantasy weeks last year, tied for fifth.

Under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, the Browns significantly improved in almost every rushing category. Let’s take a look at some specific Browns’ rushing statistics from 2019 and 2020.

Rushing Statistic
2019 Rank
2020 Rank
Total Rushing Yards
12th
3rd
Total Rushing Attempts
22nd
4th
Total Rushing TDs
15th
5th
Adjust Line Yards
10th
6th
Second Level Yards
5th
1st

(Graph: Statistics from FootballGuys and Football Outsiders)

Cleveland was able to finish Top 5 in almost every rushing column, mainly due to Chubb's excellence and efficiency. He averaged 17.2 touches per game, had a 25.4% broken tackle rate, and led the league in yards created per attempt.

Chubb has proven to be a consistent fantasy option despite lower target volume compared to other top scorers. His athleticism is a key factor in being able to produce without catching a lot of passes. According to PlayerProfiler, Chubb finished third in true yards-per-carry, fourth in breakaway runs, and first in juke rate. According to Footballguys Staff Rankings, Chubb is ranked 7th overall in Non-PPR and 10th in PPR. With an approximate ADP of RB9, Chubb is valued correctly in terms of his overall potential for the 2021 season.

Good running backs tend to come from good offenses. In 2020, the Browns ranked fourth in NFL Team Red Zone Scoring Percentage (73.3%). More red zone opportunities mean more red zone touches for Chubb, which equates to more touchdowns. His past and projected opportunities in the offense are reassuring that Chubb has the ability to finish in the Top 5 this year.

STATS AND PROJECTIONS

Season
Games
Rushes
RuYards
RuTDs
Targets
Receptions
ReYards
ReTDs
FumLost
2018
16
192
996
8
29
20
149
2
0
2019
16
298
1494
8
50
36
278
0
3
2020
12
190
1067
12
18
16
150
0
1
Projector
Games
Rushes
RuYards
RuTDs
Recs
ReYards
ReTDs
FumLost
16.3
271.5
1406
13.1
22.3
185
0.8
1.7
17.0
246.2
1290
10.2
20.2
162
0.6
0.0
17.0
270.0
1451
14.0
26.0
235
1.0
1.0
14.0
277.4
1453
13.3
16.5
132
0.9
2.8
16.0
270.0
1440
14.5
24.0
208
0.5
1.0
17.0
279.0
1322
13.0
22.8
182
0.5
3.3
16.0
277.0
1440
13.0
23.0
190
1.0
2.0

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