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Andrew Swanson | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Fantasy Impact: Carlos Hyde in Cleveland

Carlos Hyde

Carlos Hyde could be a viable RB2 or part of RBBC nightmare if the Browns draft Saquon Barkley.

Carlos Hyde signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $15 million to join the Cleveland Browns after four injury-riddled seasons with San Francisco. The former second-round selection out of Ohio State managed to play only one full 16-game slate with the 49ers, rushing for 940 yards on 240 carries, with eight rushing touchdowns and 350 receiving yards.

Although Hyde never reached the 1000-yard plateau, and failed to reach double-digit touchdowns in a season, his 4.17 yard per carry average since 2014 (min 500 carries) places him a respectable 17th overall among running backs. Just .02 behind 2017 fantasy MVP Todd Gurley and ahead of Doug Martin, Melvin Gordon, and Latavius Murray.

Hyde’s 11.1 fantasy points per game in 2017 was 14th among running backs based on FFToday Standard Scoring, making him a solid No.2 fantasy running back on a team that struggled offensively before the mid-season acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo.

It is unclear if a move east to join the Browns will be an upgrade or a downgrade for Hyde based on the uncertainty surrounding the Cleveland offense and the usage of Duke Johnson in the passing game. Johnson finished fourth among running backs with 74 catches for 693 yards and three touchdowns, and figures to once again be a part of the passing game for head coach Hue Jackson.

There is also concern that Cleveland will also use one of their two top four picks on Penn State star Saquon Barkley, arguably the most talented college running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson in 2007. The Browns did not invest a ton of money in Hyde and drafting a possible once in a generation talent like Barkley may be too tempting to pass up for new Browns GM John Dorsey.

Assuming that Hyde is the primary first and second down back, with Johnson working as a change of pace and receiving option, Hyde should be considered a viable mid-to-low range RB2 in 2018. The likelihood of him garnering more than 240 carries is low, but the probability of him acting as the goal line back on an improved offense with new skill position players at quarterback and wide receiver is almost a certainty. A rushing total of right around 1000 yards and seven rushing touchdowns is well within reach, with a reception total similar to what Isaiah Crowell earned last season (30 for 182 yards) is not out of the question.

The addition of Tyrod Taylor as the stopgap quarterback for whomever the Browns draft form this year’s QB class is an upgrade over the trio of DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, and Cody Kessler that Jackson used last season. As the No.16 ranked QB in completion percentage in 2017, Taylor was not the most accurate of passers, and his 14 passing touchdowns placed him behind Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco. But his legs are a viable weapon that Jackson will exploit, which will open running lanes for Hyde of the read option and inside traps.

The trio of Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and Jarvis Landry is one of the more impressive groups in the NFL, giving Taylor more than enough firepower in the passing game to move the ball via the air and take pressure off the run game. Although he claims that he is no longer able to play at a high level, the retirement of future hall of fame left tackle Joe Thomas is a concern that Dorsey will need to address in free agency or the draft.

If Dorsey does make the right move and draft Barkley, a three-headed monster in Cleveland could reduce Hyde to a fringe flex play option. It is also possible that Barkley impresses right out of the gate and takes control of the starting job in camp similar to how Dalvin Cook secured the starting job for the Vikings last season, making free agent acquisition Latavius Murray an afterthought until Cook suffered a season-ending knee injury.