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Nick Chubb Injury Fantasy Fallout: Jerome Ford, Free Agents Browns Could Add

Sep 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) is taken from the field on a cart after suffering an apparent injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday night, Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury when his knee collided with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. He is almost certainly out for the rest of the season.

That changes the state of the Browns' running back room, as well as how they’ll likely operate their offense moving forward and which potential free agent additions they might make.

>> READ: Week 3 Waiver Wire Adds Post Chubb Injury

Chubb Injury Impact

Browns' RB Room

Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong are the only remaining backs on the Browns roster. For Week 3, expect Ford to handle some early-down work, the majority of the goal-line carries and the third down/pass-catching role.

Ford has fantasy RB2 potential and is a priority waiver claim, given we can start him for the rest of the fantasy season.

Strong ran a 4.37 40-time (elite) and was recently waived by the New England Patriots. He should mix in with Ford for early-down carries, emphasizing getting the speedy back out in space. 

However, there’s a risk with his role, as the Browns will almost assuredly add a veteran to their running back room. Strong’s upside is 10-15 weekly carries behind a top-flight offensive line, amounting to RB3/FLEX production.

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Browns Passing Game Outlook

There will probably be a lot of folks suggesting the Browns will pass more without their All-Pro running back. While I agree with this logic, I’m not boosting Deshaun Watson or Browns pass-catchers in fantasy.

Chubb is one of the few running backs who truly matters, and defenses have historically stacked the box when he’s on the field. Watson has already struggled in Cleveland as a passer, and now defenses will have the luxury of focusing on him. 

Remaining Free Agents

The Browns have playoff aspirations, and simply rolling with Ford and Strong for the rest of the season is unlikely. Ford should be insulated from losing too much work to a veteran, but the same cannot be said of Strong.

Kareem Hunt

Hunt knows the system after playing there the past few seasons. Should he come in, he would probably turn this into a timeshare with Ford, resembling the one brewing in Denver (Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine). Hunt is likely nothing more than a fantasy RB3 or flex option should he re-sign with Cleveland.

Leonard Fournette

Fournette had 189 carries and 73 receptions last season and remains a free agent. He’s not a great back anywhere, but he was always solid enough to earn Tom Brady’s trust. 

Fournette’s 230-pound frame (goal-line work) and strong pass-blocking and pass-catching skills could relegate Ford to seven to 10 carries and one or two targets per game, rendering Ford nothing more than a bench stash. Fournette’s upside is fantasy RB2 in this offense.

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