The news fell on his with no hints. It was our version of a Woj Bomb, but when the dust settled, the Jaguars had RB Carlos Hyde and the Browns had a 2019 fifth-round pick. So what does that mean from a fantasy perspective?
Carlos Hyde has been a bust free agent signing this year for the Browns. He’s averaging just 3.4 yards per carry with just one game where he averaged over 4.0 yards per carry. To put that into perspective, Nick Chubb is averaging 10.8 yards per carry behind that same offensive line… but more on Chubb later.
Hyde will enter the Jaguars offense in a committee with T.J. Yeldon. Pro Football Focus gives Yeldon better receiving and pass blocking grades than Hyde, so we should expect Yeldon to be the primary passing back with Hyde staying in his typical run-first role. But with his first game with the Jaguars just two days away, Hyde will likely be out on Sunday as he learns the new system, so it’s safe to fire up Yeldon as a RB2 for one more week.
After this week, the rest of season outlook for both Hyde and Yeldon is murky. The Jaguars play the Eagles in Week 8, then head for their bye, and they then return to a matchup with the Colts. The expectation is that Fournette will be over his lingering hamstring injury for that Week 10 game, which would leave both Hyde and Yeldon as no more than low ceiling handcuffs. It’s possible that Hyde just gets one week as the lead runner for the Jaguars.
Hyde coming into town should give the Jaguars more incentive to rest Leonard Fournette through the Week 9 bye. Fournette fantasy owners are probably better off that he isn’t rushed back – he re-injured his hamstring earlier this season when he rushed back too quickly – so this trade might allow Fournette to have a strong finish to the season. Of course, adding another back into the mix could limit Fournette’s usage when he returns to the field, but Fournette should nonetheless re-emerge on the RB1/2 borderline.
The biggest winner of the trade is Nick Chubb, who would be the highest graded running back this season by Pro Football Focus if he met the playing time minimums. This shouldn’t be too surprising given his 98th-percentile SPARQ score – that’s just behind Saquon Barkley by the way – and his insane college production. But even more important for fantasy than being good at football is getting volume. Chubb now checks both boxes since the second-round rookie will absorb much of Hyde’s 19.0 rush attempts per game. Chubb is an RB2 right away – he’s a near lock in DFS this week -- with a chance to make a lot of noise down the stretch.
Duke Johnson isn’t as big of a winner as Chubb, but he should still see more opportunities than he has seen this season -- Johnson has averaged 2.3 fewer receptions per game and 1.9 fewer carries per game as he did in 2017 -- with Hyde shipped out. From a team perspective, the Browns need to boast Johnson’s receiving reps down the stretch to help the struggling passing offense, and the Hyde trade was the first step to making that happen. This expected bump in passing volume should put Duke Johnson into flex consideration in PPR leagues during the bye weeks.
This trade should help the Browns pick up more first downs and visit the red zone more times over the rest of the season since Chubb and Johnson have been significantly more efficient than Hyde. Of course, that means slightly more scoring opportunities for Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Antonio Callaway. Quarterback streamers can do a lot worse than Mayfield this week with the burnable Bucs on the schedule.
Marshawn Lynch to the IR?
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the injured reserve is a “strong possibility” for Marshawn Lynch, who is battling a serious groin injury right now. With Lynch out for the foreseeable future, the Raiders will lean on a combination of Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington. Jon Gruden has had some odd obsession for Martin for months now despite Martin’s brutal 3.0 yards per carry average over the last three seasons. Everyone needs to hope that Gruden makes the proper decision by using Richard more than Martin, but our expectations for that need to be low. The Raiders will likely run Martin into brick walls on early downs with Richard, who has at least five targets in 5-of-6 games, entering the game in passing situations. DeAndre Washington will likely make his season debut in Week 8 against the Colts as well.
If you are making free agent pickups based on today’s news, I’d rank the players as Nick Chubb > Duke Johnson > Jalen Richard > Doug Martin > Carlos Hyde > DeAndre Washington.