Kareem Hunt Fantasy Outlook Makes Him Tough to Draft Despite Potential Late-Season Upside
One of the more polarizing fantasy football debates heading into the 2019 NFL season is the one surrounding the Cleveland Browns backfield. While Nick Chubb has upside as an every-down back for the first nine weeks of the season, Kareem Hunt will return to the team in Week 10 – the Brown have a Week 7 bye – after completing his eight-game suspension, raising question marks around the value either one offers.
For fantasy purposes, there are two relevant questions. The first is whether Nick Chubb is worthy of a first-round draft pick, considering the uncertainty of his workhorse role once Hunt returns. Chubb was mighty impressive as a rookie, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and he is now being hyped up for his potential role in the passing game this upcoming season, making a strong case for himself.
The other question is whether Hunt can cut into Chubb's role enough to be a problem. You can make a very intriguing case, and Hunt is in a very unique position for a player of his skill set. Through his first 27 NFL games with the Chiefs he has been one of the best running backs in football, racking up 25 touchdowns. He has been a beast as both a runner and a receiver, being trusted with 16.8 carries and 3.6 targets per game so far in his career.
His abrupt exit from Kansas City definitely threw his NFL career into limbo, but the Browns were quick to pounce on his talent, signing Hunt this past February. While he will miss half the season, the signing is a good indication that the Browns have big plans for Hunt, which should go beyond simply being a handcuff to Chubb as the unchallenged starter.
Despite his immense talent and potentially useful role in Week 10 and beyond though, Hunt is not a desirable draft target in fantasy football this season.
It is a big ask to stash a player in fantasy football for eight weeks, and Hunt won't even help the issue in leagues that allow IR spots, as his suspension does not grant him that type of roster designation.
If anything, in the rare leagues where Hunt goes undrafted or an impatient owner is forced to drop him once bye weeks kick in, savvy owners can start considering him after Week 4 or so if they are in need of running back help.
Hunt's inevitable return to the offense does make Chubb a risky pick at his current average draft position (ADP). While Chubb can still have value past Week 8, a committee role could put a cap on that value come fantasy playoffs, which is not something anyone wants to hear about their first-round draft pick.
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