During the Browns’ Week 4 49-38 victory over the Cowboys, star running back Nick Chubb suffered an MCL injury. A Cowboys’ player rolled up on him from behind, causing the injury. At the time, Chubb was rolling, with six carries for 43 yards.
Honestly, this injury must feel extremely disappointing for Chubb. He struggled through an awful ACL tear in college, which severely hurt his draft stock. However, since that injury in 2015, Chubb has remained practically completely healthy. He played every single game from 2016-2019 throughout two years at Georgia and two years in the NFL.
Even though the Browns had acquired Kareem Hunt during the 2019 offseason, Chubb had played exceptionally well both last year and 2020. Before his injury, Chubb had a 5.9 YPC in four games, and he already had four rushing touchdowns.
Now, the Browns have placed Chubb on the injured reserve list, which forces him to miss a minimum of three games. Adam Schefter claimed that Chubb could miss around six weeks, but the Browns dispute that timeframe. Chubb is eligible to come back in Week 8 against the Raiders, but the Browns have a Week 9 bye. Therefore, I would predict Chubb to return in Week 10 versus the Texans. The Browns are now a 3-1 team, and they could be contenders in the AFC. They will not shut Chubb down for the season, so he will play again in 2020.
In redraft leagues, handling Chubb is simple. If you have IR spots, slide him there and hold onto him. Even if you don’t, it’s hard to imagine that you can drop Chubb. He’s a borderline RB1 when healthy, and I expect him to return to 100% from this MCL sprain by Week 10. He will then give you four weeks of production before the fantasy playoffs.
Of course, Hunt is a massive beneficiary from Chubb’s injury. Until Chubb returns, Hunt will assume a workhorse role, or at least the lead role. Hunt only had 11 carries for 71 yards after Chubb went down while D’Ernest Johnson had 13 carries for 95 yards. However, Hunt had a groin injury coming into this contest, and he was a game-time decision to play.
If Hunt is fully healthy moving forward, he will be in RB1 territory as long as Chubb remains out. The Browns play a run-heavy offense, and I don’t expect that to change even after losing Chubb. Hunt isn’t on any waiver wires, so he’s just a hold in redraft leagues.
As I mentioned earlier, Johnson saw 13 carries once Chubb went down. I don’t expect that to be the norm, but Johnson should see weekly work as the #2 running back behind Hunt. As Hunt is already a bit banged up, Johnson is a must-add in all redraft formats. He would be an RB2 if Hunt got hurt, and he’ll be a low-end RB4 while Hunt remains healthy.
I wouldn’t make any massive adjustments to anyone else due to Chubb’s injury. Perhaps the Browns will pass slightly more without Chubb, so Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry could see a few more targets. However, losing Chubb will hurt the overall offense, so they might score fewer touchdowns.
Dontrell Hilliard saw five carries for 19 yards, and he caught one pass for two yards. But, the Browns want to run a two-back system. Assuming Hunt is good to go, I don’t expect Hilliard to see any work on a weekly basis. He’s only an add in extremely deep leagues.
In dynasty leagues, there’s not much you can do about Chubb. If you’re a contender, I guess you can try to sell him for win-now pieces, but you’re not going to get the same return you did for the injured Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley. Chubb simply isn’t the same kind of difference-maker. Unless someone specifically wants to buy Chubb, he’s probably a dynasty hold.
Now’s the time to sell Hunt in dynasty leagues. Chubb will return, but Hunt can provide weekly RB1 value to a contender until then. Of course, if you’re a contender yourself, Hunt is a perfect hold. But, you can likely acquire a 2021 first-round rookie pick plus for Hunt right now. He will not carry that value once Chubb returns, so Hunt is essentially a must-sell for rebuilding dynasty owners.
D’Ernest Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard
Johnson will carry weekly value at a depleted running back position. He’s almost certainly on your waiver wire in your dynasty leagues. In most dynasty formats, he’s the kind of player I’m willing to spend most of my FAAB to acquire. Usable running backs don’t appear on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues very often.
Hilliard might be worth a speculative claim, but I don’t think he’s anything more than that. I don’t expect the Browns to bring in another running back right now, but they will if Hunt or Johnson suffers a severe injury. Therefore, I don’t see how Hilliard has a path to playing time, and you can leave him on waiver wires in most dynasty leagues. Hilliard is now in practically the same situation Johnson occupied previously, and Johnson wasn’t worth a roster spot until now.
Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.