Is Carlos Hyde Headed for a Massive Breakout in 2016?

With volume, efficiency, and opportunity sitting at his doorstep, Hyde is primed for a stellar 2016. Can he capitalize?

It's never too early to talk shop with fantasy football enthusiasts.

The 2015 season led to a massive shift in the fantasy climate among fantasy owners valuing wide receivers and running backs, as we saw wide receivers dominate the top of the charts in points per reception (PPR) leagues.

Early 2016 mocks by Fantasy Football Calculator have had more wide receivers (21) in the first 36 picks (think first three rounds in 12-team leagues) than ever before. The position has steadily increased over the past few years with 2015 drafters selecting 17 wide receivers in the first 36 player selections -- compared to 13 in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

Are heavy workload running backs becoming a thing of the past? Or was 2015 just an anomaly? Perhaps we're just seeing a shift in the literal running backs who are being invested in, with many of the league's former stalwarts having age catch up to them.

Marshawn Lynch (30), Adrian Peterson (31), Jamaal Charles (29), and Arian Foster (30) each face questions regarding retirement, age, injury, and the ominous 1,800-carry cliff. As we wait for the younger running back classes to catch up to these fantasy stars outside of Le'Veon Bell (24) and Todd Gurley (21), there are questions around who else is likely to join these two in the next "class" of perennial fantasy studs at the running back position.

One player who appears to be largely overlooked so far this offseason is San Francisco's Carlos Hyde. The former second-round pick out of Ohio State is entering what could be a gold mine of fantasy opportunity playing as Chip Kelly's lead running back.

After free agency rumors of potentially landing Doug Martin (who ultimately remained in Tampa Bay) fell through, the job was essentially gift wrapped to Hyde.

How did Hyde respond?

He reportedly shed 15 pounds, a 220-pound playing weight, to fit into Kelly's uptempo system better.

Hyde is on the precipice of a massive breakout in 2016 with volume, efficiency, and opportunity sitting at his doorstep.

What We've Seen from Hyde

After a massive breakout Week 1 of the 2015 season in which Hyde finished with 28 touches for 182 total yards and a pair of scores, things were looking up for a strong campaign from him. In fact, through the first six weeks, Hyde was the RB14 in PPR scoring before injuries derailed his season.

Hyde was quite spectacular on a per-touch basis compared to his other heavy-volume peers.

Among the 44 running backs who eclipsed 100 rushing attempts, Hyde had the seventh-highest percentage of runs of at least five or more yards (38.3% of his runs). Hyde also had the 13th-lowest percentage of carries that went for two or fewer yards among the same subset (42.6%). Only four other running backs -- Charles Sims, Thomas Rawls, Giovani Bernard, and David Johnson -- bested Hyde in both these two facets.

Against that same group of 100-plus rushers, Hyde forced the highest rate of missed tackles per rushing attempt (0.28) to lead the group, according to ProFootbalFocus. His 32 tackles avoided were the 13th-most in the league despite appearing in only seven games last season.

Playing behind an offensive line that was decimated by free agency departures and early retirements, Hyde was able to overcome their shortcomings and finish with the 13th-highest Success Rate (42.61%) among this same subset. Success Rate is the percentage of plays that contribute positive Net Expected Points (NEP) to help that player's team increase their scoring probability.

For context, Rashad Jennings led the league with a 50.8% Success Rate, while Hyde finished just ahead the likes of Doug Martin, Devonta Freeman, and Le'Veon Bell.

What History Tells Us

Last year, we saw a running back who consistently made explosive runs, forced defenders to miss tackles, and put his team in good position to score points. Hyde now enters a unique situation in 2016, one that's capable of taking his game to the next level with one of the league's best coaches at utilizing his rushing attack.

Chip Kelly's offense moves fast and is capable of putting up points in a hurry. Last year's questionable moves with DeMarco Murray aside, Kelly's offense has fared extremely well in the NFL to date.

Chip Kelly's Offense Points Rushing Attempts   Rushing Yards  Rushing TDs
2013 4th 4th 1st 2nd
2014 3rd 7th 9th 5th
2015 13th 11th 14th 10th

Kelly's offenses not only have been able to put up points with ease, but also they're able to do so in an old-school fashion by running the ball. His 2013 and 2014 seasons had the Eagles in the top-10 in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns.

In his first season under Kelly, LeSean McCoy was a workhorse, seeing 78.9% of the running back touches and 79.1% of the snaps and trailing only Matt Forte's ridiculous 87.8%. McCoy finished the year as the third-highest fantasy scoring running back by averaging 20.8 PPR fantasy points per game.

McCoy led the league that year with 314 rushing attempts for 1,609 yards while scoring 9 touchdowns. He picked up an additional 540 receiving yards on 52 receptions and another pair of touchdowns.

Replicating those statistics is no easy feat in today's NFL, but the depth behind Hyde shouldn't warrant much of a challenge for him to see the lion's share of carries. If Hyde is able to garner anything near those touch totals, he could be headed for a monster fantasy season.

Hyde is currently being massively undervalued going as the RB19 in recent mocks. With recent drafters focusing on wide receivers in the early rounds, Hyde is becoming an even bigger value pick due to this receiver-happy trend we're seeing.

Is he about to have an Arian Foster or Marshawn Lynch-type career? That's hard to predict. But Hyde is one of the rare running backs entering an incredible opportunity -- to see volume intersect with ability -- in 2016.

We've already seen what Hyde is capable of in the NFL. He's a dynamic, physical playmaker capable of getting the tough yards in an efficient manner. 

Kelly's offense can facilitate Hyde's strengths into success for both San Francisco and your fantasy squads in 2016 at an incredible discount.