Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland
Many experts have been high on Nick Chubb as a player for the upcoming year — despite some glaring red flags. Others see the red flags at the cost of picking Nick Chubb at the start of the second round of drafts. Some experts advocate picking up a tight end like Travis Kelce, or one of the elite wide receivers (such as Julio Jones) at that price. Those same experts advocate that outside the Top 4 running backs, value can be found in the third- and fourth-round where the same could not be said at receiver and especially tight end.
Others also point to Chubb’s disappointing receiving production and the structure of the Freddie Kitchens offense which are major red flags against his price tag. He also falls into the same statistical trap I’ve discussed in a prior article with George Kittle. The majority of his production comes from the AFC West and Atlanta, which have become a free-for-all with running back and tight end production. Yes, Cleveland has the privilege of playing Cincinnati twice a year but his production against Pittsburgh and Baltimore was poor. After receiving the majority of the snaps, his stat lines were 18 rushes for 65 yards against Pittsburgh and nine rushes for 24 yards against Baltimore. His best game of 20 rushes for 176 yards and a touchdown with a receiving line of three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown came against the 32nd-ranked Atlanta defense with multiple injuries. His impressive game with a line of three rushes for 105 yards and two touchdowns came against the AFC West’s Oakland, and his line of 20 rushes for 100 yards came against Denver. He ran for a line of 22 rushes for 85 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City’s terrible run defense also. After looking at his stats against more neutral game scripts such as those against Carolina (13 rushes, 66 yards, TD) and Pittsburgh (18 rushes, 65 yards), it is difficult to suggest he is worth a second-round pick. The return of Kareem Hunt in Week 9 only hurts his cause more.
The removal of Duke Johnson should help his receiving production a good amount and playing the AFC East will provide good, but not great game scripts. If you want the same production for a lower cost, you could draft Aaron Jones in the third or even better Chris Carson in the fourth round. Aaron Jones plays the poor defenses of the AFC West this year and Chris Carson can run all over his division.
Snagging one of the elite tight ends or wide receivers would set your team apart even more than if you drafted Chubb. Overall, the risk is too high for a second-round pick.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota
Cook falls into a similar trap as discussed above where his ceiling and especially his floor are not worth a second-round pick when you could pick up a very safe tight end or wide receiver. Cook is even riskier than Chubb is because he has never seen 20 carries in a year with the new offensive coordinator. On top of that, he has had only two rushing touchdowns and two receiving all year, and so far has to be treated as an injury risk. Cook has the disadvantage of also having a low ranked offensive line to try and run with. Cook could easily boom as he has the fifth-easiest schedule for running backs and plays the NFC East and West. Latavius Murray could have been a major thorn in his side for goal line work but he has moved on.
The downside is immense as he has only started 14 games in two years while battling one injury after another. He is like the Sammy Watkins for running backs where he will tease nice production whenever he can play. He had some very nice games his rookie year in terms of production but last year only had one good game. Both of his rushing touchdowns came against Miami with a stat line of 19 rushes for 136 yards and two touchdowns (to go with 27 receiving yards). Besides that game, we have to really project his production to the 2019 year as his best lines are 16 rushes for 73 yards with three catches for 35 yards against Detroit and nine rushes for 84 yards with eight catches for 22 yards against New England. He has shown to be very efficient with these carries but even his best games show poor volume overall for a second-round pick. Against Green Bay, he had a line of 10 rushes for 29 yards to go with three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. That is a good game to gauge a neutral game script against at home. Just 80 total yards and 13 total opportunities is not a good line for a second-round pick. Like discussed above, you should consider Travis Kelce, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones or Michael Thomas instead. Marlon Mack even provides a safer floor with his force-fed production and great offensive line. Like many experts say, it is hard to win your draft in the first two rounds but you could certainly lose it.