Carlos Hyde to Jaguars: What to make of the Jacksonville backfield now?

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/28424/" data-ylk="slk:T.J. Yeldon">T.J. Yeldon</a> has one more start coming his way, but that might be it (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
T.J. Yeldon has one more start coming his way, but that might be it (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

It’s not easy to wipe out a backfield with one tiny little trade, but that’s what the Jacksonville Jaguars did Friday afternoon. Well done, men. We want to go bowling with you.

The Jags shipped a fifth-round pick to Cleveland for RB Carlos Hyde. Jacksonville can’t come out and say it, but the move speaks clearly about how it views the rest of the backfield. T.J. Yeldon? Not really a long-term answer. Leonard Fournette? Not someone they can be sure on.

The Jaguars backfield outlook

Yeldon will be fine for Week 7 — he’s confirmed to start against Houston, Fournette is out (and presumably out until after the Week 9 bye), and Hyde isn’t expected to play. But going forward, it’s difficult to have a lot of optimism here. Fournette remains the obvious upside guy, but his downside is also clear — maybe he won’t play at all. Yeldon becomes the king of irony, a JAG on the Jags. Maybe Hyde will be okay if Fournette can’t return quickly, but his value was cleaner on the Browns.

Hyde owners can take heart in a couple of things. One, it’s not that difficult for a traded running back to pick up a new offense, even in the middle of the year. This is a monumentally-difficult task at other skill positions. Also, the Jaguars offensive line has been better than Cleveland’s this year, so maybe Hyde can look forward to better blocking down the road. But his ultimate fantasy worth is directly tied to when Fournette can return and what he’s able to do.

Chubb the obvious beneficiary in Cleveland

Things tidy up nicely on the other side of this deal, with the Cleveland backfield open for new business. Rookie Nick Chubb finally gets a chance to show what he can do as a lead back (keep in mind, Hyde is third in the league in rushing attempts), and Duke Johnson’s role should expand as well. Chubb’s first order of business is a juicy one, a Sunday assignment at Tampa. The Browns also play Pittsburgh, Kansas City (Bingo), and Atlanta (Yahtzee) in front of their Week 11 bye.

By now, Chubb has been claimed in every competitive league, if he wasn’t already owned. Fantasy owners who were left out in the cold on these moves might want to look to Oakland, where Marshawn Lynch (groin) is out several weeks and perhaps the entire season. Doug Martin could rise back from the dead and provide fantasy value, or maybe it’s a time to invest in pass-catching back Jalen Richard. Oakland is off in Week 7.

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