There are certain players in fantasy football you begin to grow increasingly smug towards for no reason whatsoever. Ask me why I detest Tom Brady and I can point to my beloved Falcons and their throats being stepped on with 28-3 in the 3rd quarter forever entrenched in my mind. Ask me why I think Rob Gronkowski is an absolute beefcake and you’ll probably reference a number of offseason party videos. Nevertheless, I’ll digress from my Patriots hate and lead into my nonsensical Carlos Hyde chatter.
Carlos Hyde, since he has entered the league, has been given a Do-Not-Draft (DND) tattoo on my annual draft board simply because… well… I didn’t like him. Why? I mean they’re the 49ers and he looks like he’d be a slow plodder. Heck, he’s a couple cheeseburgers from being Eddie Lacy‘s fanboy. Honestly, I just didn’t want to draft the guy and was willing to mock whoever did.
But it’s time to move beyond childish distaste. I’ve decided this year I’m not going to judge a giant RB by its cover and instead dive into the film to see if Hyde is usable in his 1st year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. RBs can be incredibly effective in his system such as the Texans’ immortal Steve Slaton, Alfred Morris in Washington, Isaiah Crowell for the Browns and recently Devonta Freeman and Tevin “The Soulman” Coleman in Atlanta. Can Hyde have similar results? Let’s see What’s On Tape…
Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have Carlos Hyde and every other RB ranked for the 2017 season.
Is He Jekyll or Hyde?
At 6’0, 230 lbs, Hyde is a bruising back who’s closest comparable according to PlayerProfiler.com is none other than Eddie Lacy himself. When Hyde was selected in the 2nd round out of Ohio State, I thought we were looking at a Trent Richardson clone. I figured he’d be someone with major college production but with a habit of continually running into offensive lines and a knack for playing “slow”.
It has been a somewhat slow start but Hyde has increased his yards per carry every year and last year he was 12 yards away from reaching 1,000 despite only playing 13 games. In terms of fantasy production, he finished 14th in standard and 18th in PPR. Hyde finished with double-digits in standard scoring 8 out of his 13 games, which is relatively consistent at the RB position. In terms of Value Based Drafting (VBD), he was 28th, quite remarkable considering he didn’t play in 3 games.
He did suffer an MCL injury in Week 16 against the Rams which ended his season but reports thus far are encouraging. Hyde has now missed 14 games in three years and is headed into the final season of his rookie contract. The 49ers will look to get everything they can out of him before he hits the free agent market.
What’s on Tape
Here is my attempt to gather the most meaningful data and analysis from Hyde’s 217 carries and 33 targets on film from 2016:
-I’ve heard from a number of people rave about his “excellent feet” especially for someone his size. The game tape didn’t lie as Hyde nimbly maneuvered behind the league’s 28th ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a true downhill runner. It’s clear that he’s used best in zone blocking schemes with the ability to make one cut and go.
-The dude has some serious power to his game. Hyde ranked 3rd in the league in yards after contact per game (31.8) and it was evident on his game tape. In fact, 662 of his 988 rushing yards came after contact, that’s a whopping 67%! In Week 3 versus the Seahawks, Hyde finished with 103 yards and 2 TDs, mostly in a blow out garbage-time filled 4th quarter. He routinely was met at the line and forced his way to 3 and 4 yard gains. His 2 point conversion at the end of the game showed drive running over safety Earl Thomas into the end-zone.
-Hyde absolutely murdered the Jets in Week 14 with 200 yards on just 17 carries. He had 16(!) forced missed tackles, the most for any RB in a single game in 2016. Jets defenders failed to get solid shots on Hyde’s body. His 7 yard TD reception in the 1st quarter was the product of bull-dozing Jets CB Buster Skrine and reaching out for the pile-on.
-After the 49ers switched up their QBs from Blaine Gabbert to Colin Kaepernick, he looked incredibly spry running out of the shotgun and pistol formations on zone-reads. Defenses had to be more honest knowing Kap’s ability to pull it down and run. What was most surprising was Hyde’s ability to bounce it outside and see huge chunk gains. In that Jets game, I counted 6 times on his 17 rushes in which he bounced it outside and gained 5+ yards.
-I was interested to see what happened around the goal-line and if his size and drive in tight spaces showed up. Hyde had 6 rushes inside the 5 on the year and converted half of them. The couple of times he got stopped was due to the line getting blown up at the snap. In Week 1 versus the Rams, Hyde opened up the game running for 4 yards or less on his first 10 carries including 4 for negative gains. He was held up at the 1 twice. Regardless of his inefficiency, the 49ers rode him to the tune of 88 yards and 2 TDs.
-After returning from his shoulder injury, Hyde split time with DuJuan Harris as he eased back into Chip Kelly’s gameplan. It was rough in Week 10 versus the Cardinals as he ran 13 times for 14 yards and really got little going. However, the following week, he looked like a real difference maker against the Patriots. The game was relatively close for 3 quarters as Hyde registered 6 first downs including 2 on short passes. He totaled 110 yards on the day as a consistent chain mover.
-There were some definite causes for concern as he had 3 lost fumbles on the year, tied for the most among RBs. His fumble in Week 2 that was returned by Carolina’s Shaq Thompson for a TD was inexcusable. In Week 15, Falcon’s LB Deion Jones made an easy strip on an open field tackle that was also careless on Hyde’s part.
-It’s clear that Hyde isn’t utilized frequently as a 3-down back as the team doesn’t fully trust him in pass protection schemes. Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris were enlisted as the primary passing down threats. And yet Hyde still had the 12th highest RB snap % share in the league so he might not be off the field as much as you’d think. His 27 receptions actually tied him with Jay Ajayi last year and his 3 TDs through the air gave him one more than Le’Veon Bell. Don’t let these numbers fool you though as Hyde was quickly gobbled up on a majority of his targets.
Currently, Hyde is being selected as the 12th RB off the board according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com at the 2/3 turn in standard drafts. Based on that price, you have to be able to convince yourself that he is a strong RB2 with the real possibility of solidifying himself against tough run defenses in the NFC West. The tape shows that Hyde isn’t just “another guy” but has real ability within a zone blocking scheme.
As of right now, he still remains the main ball-carrier in a Kyle Shanahan offense. If the TD total (9) remains similar to last year and Hyde eeks up over the 1,000 yard mark on the season, he can do something only 7 RBs accomplished last year. The upside is low-end RB1 value while the downside could certainly end with you owning a plodding sub-20 RB with smashed value in a rebuilding franchise. I personally won’t be willing to pull the trigger until the mid 3rd round but definitely would feel happy with him as my RB2.