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Carlos Hyde: The Pros and Cons

Hyde

Here at DLF, we believe in looking at players, strategies and topics from differing angles. With a team the size of a small third world country we are able to avoid “group think” and present our differing opinions to you guys so you can form your own. George Kritikos and I feel differently about San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde so we present to you our “dynasty debate.”

I am taking the con side here as I am lower on Hyde (#95) than any other DLF writer who participates in the top 100 (no one else had him lower than #42). So what is it that keeps me down on the big man? I’ll use some chronology here to help illustrate my series of flags that keep me from being too optimistic about his dynasty future.

[inlinead]Let’s start back at college where Ohio State has had a rough recent history of running backs transitioning to the NFL. Six different running backs have registered 1,000 yard rushing seasons for the Buckeyes since the year 2000. However, as of now, I would categorize Dan “Boom” Herron as the most successful NFL running back of that group – not a great lineage and while you can’t necessarily hold that all against Hyde, it is a reason to question his 2013 success with Ohio State.

Moving towards the combine and his performance there, it was disappointing for me to say the least. Running a 4.62 to 4.66 (depending on who you believe) 40-yard dash is a poor score for a rusher but it helps to put it into context. Let’s look at running backs who have scored 100 fantasy points in a season, drafted in the first four rounds, and ran worse than a 4.6 at the combine: Frank Gore, Stevan Ridley, Montee Ball, Le’Ron McClain, Shonn Greene, and Chris Brown. It’s a pretty short and unimpressive list outside of Gore, who has proven to be an anomaly in many ways. Why I dwell on 40-yard time is that it is shown to be the highest correlated combine metric to future success. Below is a table I’ve used in the past to illustrate average speed to the number of 200 fantasy point seasons a running back has in their career (which is the top 20-25 backs each year).

hyde1

While averages mean that there will be slower running backs capable of delivering top 20 seasons, the trend overall shows that repeating the feat becomes less likely if you are slower.

Even if you tell me that these are all in the past and let’s focus on his NFL career so far, there are a few red flags here as well. On the surface, I like the 4.0 yards per carry and the ability to miss tackles (25 on just 83 carries). Where I worry is his contact rate where 68% of his yards are gained after contact. While that is appealing in the sense Hyde fights for extra yards, these backs (Hyde is in the High contact rate category) tend to be lower fantasy performers as shown below:

hyde2

This is also a skill that declines with age and when a player is so reliant on it, like Hyde has shown early in his career, he could see a precipitous fall that outpaces a typical running back. Shown below are the average yards after contact by experience level, which takes a pretty good fall after the third season of a runner’s career.

hyde3

The other concern I have is Hyde’s ability to handle a full workload (and if the 49ers will give him one). In games where he had at least seven carries (six games), Hyde averaged 3.2 yards per carry. Admittedly, this is a small sample as he only had three games with double digit carries (2.7 yards per carry in those) so it is tough to gauge his ability to perform with a full workload. Given his limitations as a receiver (12 receptions, never over 20 in a season at Ohio State), there is a low ceiling on his performance in the passing game as well.

All the information tells me that this is a player who could have a few useful seasons but will be hard-pressed to match the top 50 dynasty asset claims my fellow writers are bestowing on him. Currently, Hyde is my 25th rated running back which is a borderline RB2 if you are keeping score. If Gore leaves in free agency or retires, I could see him rising a few spots but he has the look of a big back like Shonn Greene, not Le’Veon Bell.

If George is taking the con side, it means I’m taking the pro. I live just north of Cincinnati and got to see Hyde play his entire college career every weekend. Full disclosure, I’m a Notre Dame fan and the Buckeyes make my stomach turn, so there is precisely zero homerism here. I am, however, a 49ers fan so maybe there’s a bit of wishful thinking in my projections. Watching him at Ohio State he reminded me a lot of Michael Turner, the former Atlanta Falcons running back. Their overall measurables at the NFL combine were very similar as well. Turner didn’t hit his stride until his fifth season in the league when he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, but when he got the chance to be the feature back, he delivered. In his five seasons with Atlanta, he rushed for 6,084 yards and averaged 4.31 yards per carry with double digit touchdowns each year while being practically invisible in the passing game.

hyde4

What does Michael Turner have to do with Carlos Hyde? Maybe nothing, but it’s not unprecedented for a player of his measurables to produce. One of the big advantages Hyde will have also is the San Francisco offensive line. After a top-five rating in 2012, a season where they had the same five starters on the offensive line in all 16 games, and a top-three finish in 2013, the line was hit hard with injuries in 2014. In fact, after missing a total of 507 snaps and four games in 2012 and 2013 combined, the line missed a total of 1,413 snaps and 19 total games in 2014. Even though the team’s average rushing yards per game held steady from 137.6 in 2013 to 136.0 in 2014, those numbers were inflated a bit by Colin Kaepernick’s career high 639 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry. With a healthy offensive line going into next season, look for the team’s ground game to get back to bludgeoning opponents.

hyde5

Now Frank Gore is a free agent and probably won’t be back as the 49ers seem determined to turn the page on the Harbaugh era and re-shape this team. New head coach Jim Tomsula and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst are already talking about more designed runs for Kaepernick which will definitely create running lanes for whoever is in the backfield – it also commands extra defensive attention which leaves one less defender for Hyde.

Filling the shoes of Gore (the franchise’s all-time leading rusher) won’t be easy as he averaged nearly 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns over the last three seasons. A proficient receiver early in his career, he wasn’t much of a receiving threat during the Harbaugh era, which bodes well for Hyde’s apparent passing game limitations. As George noted, he never had more than 20 receptions in a season at Ohio State and only had 12 in his rookie year. It was also rumored to be the deciding factor for the Bengals selecting Jeremy Hill over the hometown hero in last year’s draft. With the fantasy running back position in as bad of shape as I can ever remember it, I have Hyde ranked in between Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster as my RB8.

The running backs we’ve leaned on heavily over the years are entering their twilight – Jamaal Charles, Lynch and Foster are 28 years old and Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte are both 29. I believe Hyde has the best chance to flirt with low end RB1 / high end RB2 numbers for the next 5-6 seasons.

So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Eric Olinger
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ericanadian
6 years ago

I think Iupati will be leaving in Free Agency and there’s a chance Boone gets cut so looking at a healthier line ignores the fact that it may still be a very different line. I’d say there is a significant difference in the 40 times of Turner and Hyde.

On the other side of this, I’d say that Ohio State history has only two RBs being selected in the too three rounds. One was Maurice Clarett, whose failure had little to do with Ohio State and the other was Beanie Wells, who has shown solid play, but a complete inability to stay healthy. I don’t really care about 1,000 yards. To me, it looks like the scouts are fairly successfully weeding out the weak links here and Hyde still went in the 2nd.

Big B
Reply to  ericanadian
6 years ago

eric your youth is obvious here, look a little deeper and you will find Robert Smith, Eddie George, et. al. fortunately they have been playing ball in columbus more that 10 years. this is not Madison, and clarett is their only true bust, but that was Denver’s fault he shouldn’t have ever been drafted. he would be an udfa in today’s nfl

FantasyFreak
Reply to  Big B
6 years ago

Yeah, Eddie George was beast.

Eric Olinger
Reply to  Big B
6 years ago

I took the pro side, George took the con side. I’m almost 34 and live in Ohio. I unfortunately have to see the Buckeyes every weekend. It’s a bit unfair to bring up RBs from 20 years ago though. Robert Smith and Eddie George played in a much different NFL than the pass happy league of today.

ericanadian
Reply to  Big B
6 years ago

I only looked back ten years because he only referenced the recent history. I figured most would look at the context of the response. I’ll endeavour to not make that assumption again.

K
6 years ago

I believe Hyde pulled his hamstring during his 40 yard dash at the combine. It definitely affected his time and given that half of George’s argument is predicated on using the 40-time as a predictor of NFL success, its a very relevant detail.

George Kritikos
Reply to  K
6 years ago

He did pull his hamstring at the combine so I can give him some leeway there. That’s a fair point and something I should have included when bringing it up in my argument.

I’m not sure half my argument was about speed as points regarding his college career, yards after contact, ability to handle a full workload, and his hands/team’s lack of interest in passing to an RB were also brought up.

Let’s call it 25% and that’s my final offer!

Thanks for reading, appreciate the comments.
George

FantasyFreak
Reply to  George Kritikos
6 years ago

Was the seven carries number chosen arbitrarily? The reason I ask is because if you had chosen 6, that average would have gone up considerably. He ran for 55 yards on 6 carries against Seattle. He had something like 14 carries for 93 yards against the Hawks overall, not too shabby. A few of those low output games, if I’m not mistaken, were against the Rams, where the entire 49er offence did not run the ball very well. Anyway, we shall see next year!

George Kritikos
Reply to  FantasyFreak
6 years ago

It was pretty arbitrary. I tried to capture roughly half the games. Because of the small sample, it will fluctuate pretty quickly with the addition of a good game or removal of a poor one.

In terms of opponents, there were some tough ones (Saint Louis, Dallas, Wash) and some easy ones (Philly, NYG, KC) so it wasn’t too skewed in one direction.

Preston
6 years ago

Did you look at all to see what the ‘yards to go to endzone’ average was for Hyde? I would say based on anecdotal evidence that more of his carries were from in the red zone and on short yardage situations, which one would expect to push his YPC down.

I’m also a bit unsure what a comparison to past OSU backs is supposed to mean given all the players you listed played under a different coach and in a different scheme. Sure Hyde was drafted by Tressel, but not as a RB, and didn’t take off until Meyer came in. That would be like me saying the new Jets QB is still going to be terrible because Geno played terrible there under Rex. It just doesn’t have any predictive meaning.

Bossjan Nachbar
6 years ago

Speaking of Jeremy Hill, he and Hyde are a similar size, and Hyde’s 40 time was just a shade worse than his and Hill didn’t do it on a bad hamstring.

robert moore
6 years ago

a question,, if I can get a top 4 pick in the 2015 draft should I move carlos hyde? pretty sure I like the top 3 options coming out but after that it gets murkier. I already own the #5.

Rog
Reply to  robert moore
6 years ago

No way I move Hyde right now for a top 5 pick. At least wait until you see what team drafts Gurley, Gordon, and Cooper.

DJB
6 years ago

Preston is bang on here, anyone who watched any type of Niners games last year knows that Hyde was used in goaline and obvious short yardage situations which to me helps explain why he received so much contact. Factor in he still averaged over 4 yards a carry and color me impressed to say the least.

George Kritikos
Reply to  DJB
6 years ago

It’s an interesting point that I hadn’t looked into until now. The pendulum swings both ways on this (just like the article!).

Here are a few numbers from Hyde in 2014:
Short Yardage: 1 to 3 yds to go – 7 carries, 1 yard, 0.1 ypc (8% of total carries)
Red Zone – 19 carries, 60 yards, 3.2 ypc (23% of total carries)
First half – 28 carries, 135 yards, 4.8 ypc (34% of total carries)
Second half – 52 carries, 171 yards, 3.3 ypc (66% of total carries)

Here is Gore as a comparison point:
Short Yardage – 37 carries, 142 yards, 3.8 ypc (15% of total carries)
Red Zone – 27 carries, 62 yards, 2.3 ypc (11% of total carries)
First half – 128 carries, 588 yards, 4.6 ypc (50% of total carries)
Second half – 126 carries, 518 yards, 4.1 ypc (50% of total carries)

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