The remainder of the 2023 NFL season won’t feature one of the league’s best running backs.
Nick Chubb sustained a grotesque knee injury in Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Browns wasted no time ruling the star running back out for the remainder of their game against the Steelers, and immediately after the contest, head coach Kevin Stefanski set expectation for Chubb to be sidelined for the duration of the campaign.
Chubb’s injury obviously throws a major wrench into Cleveland’s offensive plans. The ailment also has significant fantasy implications, as the four-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the first backs off the board in most drafts this year.
Folks who rostered Chubb won’t be able to pick up a player who can match what the 27-year-old typically produces on gameday. But any one of these RBs might be able to ease the blow.
Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns
Ford was a bright spot for Cleveland after Chubb went down at Acrisure Stadium. The second-year pro dashed for 106 yards on 16 carries and also caught three passes for 25 yards with a touchdown. Ford showcased impressive agility shiftiness and breakaway speed in relief of Chubb, and in doing so, the Cincinnati product might have given the Browns confidence to stick with him as the lead back. Look for Ford to log around 20 carries every week.
Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts
Moss wasn’t able to suit for the Colts in Week 1 after suffering a broken arm in late July. But his season debut this past Sunday was a loud one, as the fourth-year pro racked up 88 yards with a touchdown on 18 carries and corraled four passes for 19 yards. Moss’ production might not be sustainable with Jonathan Taylor eligible to rejoin Indianapolis after Week 4, but the 2021 rushing leader’s potentially fractured relationship with the Colts makes it tough to bank on him returning at a high level. Running backs also can be security blankets for rookie quarterbacks, so Moss should maintain an important role in Indy even if he has to share a backfield with Taylor.
Matt Breida, New York Giants
Chubb wasn’t the only superstar running back to sustain an injury in Week 2. Saquon Barkley sprained his ankle in New York’s comeback win in Arizona, and the two-time Pro Bowl selection now reportedly is being considered as week-to-week. The next man up in the Meadowlands is Breida, who played in all 17 games for the Giants last season and re-signed with the team in March. The seventh-year pro didn’t offer much to write home about in 2022 and only logged a combined three carries in the Giants’ first two games, but he’s probably still worth a shot as long as Barkley is out. The absence potentially could be longer than expected, too, as Barkley might want to take it slow since he’s playing on an expiring contract.
Craig Reynolds, Detroit Lions
Potentially lost in the injury situations involving Chubb and Barkley was the downward development of David Montgomery, who injured his thigh in the Lions’ home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Montgomery told reporters it could take a “couple weeks” for him to heal up, which could open the door for Reynolds to make some noise in the Motor City. Jahmyr Gibbs, the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, should see the lion’s share of touches out of the backfield, but Detroit clearly sees something in the 2019 undrafted free agent who has been with the team since the summer of 2021. Reynolds also admirably backfilled D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams in the past, so this is a role in which he’s comfortable.