Running back Kareem Hunt has become a valuable contributor to the Browns’ backfield after beginning his career as a workhorse in Kansas City. He’s playing in tandem with another stout running back in Nick Chubb. Does Hunt have enough standalone value to be prioritized in fantasy football drafts?
Kareem Hunt’s career started as an RB1
Kansas City selected Hunt in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Toledo. Following a season-ending injury to starting running back Spencer Ware in the Chiefs’ third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Hunt filled the void.
From a fantasy perspective, Hunt had a masterful rookie season. He averaged 21 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets), 111.4 total yards, and 18.6 PPR fantasy points per game. Hunt finished as an RB2+ in 69% of his games.
A horrendous act altered the trajectory of Hunt’s career
This positive momentum continued for Hunt into the 2018 season. In 11 active games, he averaged 109.4 total yards, 19.6 opportunities, and 21 PPR fantasy ppg. However, video evidence of Hunt committing an atrocious act resulted in him being released from the Chiefs in late November 2018.
The Browns signed Hunt in February 2019. The NFL investigated the incident, and Hunt was ultimately suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2019 season.
Kareem Hunt’s fantasy production with the Browns
Hunt finished the 2019 season with 43 rushing attempts for 179 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, along with 37 receptions for 285 receiving yards and a touchdown. Hunt shared opportunities and snaps with committee-mate Nick Chubb, who averaged 22 opportunities per game that season. Even alongside Chubb, Hunt still finished as an RB2 in 62% of his games.
In March 2020, the Browns placed a second-round restricted free agent (RFA) tender on Hunt. He signed the tender a little less than a month later; Cleveland would offer Hunt a two-year, $13.25 million contract extension. This implied that Cleveland had plans for Hunt — his fantasy production in 2020 reflected that belief.
A solid 2020 season
Hunt headed into the season as Robin to Chubb’s Batman, but ultimately, the dynamic was more akin to Nightwing and Batman. Hunt still provided standalone value, averaging 15.6 opportunities per game. Additionally, he filled in admirably when Chubb missed time early in the season. Hunt finished the 2020 season with an impressive 1,145 total yards and averaged 5 yards per touch.
Will Hunt be targeted more as a receiver out of the backfield in 2021?
The 26-year-old running back could see more targets as a receiver out of the backfield. Since 2019, Hunt has averaged 4 targets, 3 receptions, and 24.5 receiving yards per game. The Browns ranked fifth in rushing attempts (30.4) and fourth in rushing yards (145.2) per game last season. However, head coach Kevin Stefanski could lean more on quarterback Baker Mayfield and the passing game in 2021. This would be a good thing for Kareem Hunt’s fantasy outlook along with the Browns’ stout offensive line.
The Browns have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL
Cleveland’s offensive line has all of its starters returning this season and most of the backups. This unit has a great chance of matching their dominance from last season. The Browns’ offensive line excelled at run blocking and pass blocking, with no glaring weakness at the center, guard, and tackle positions.
The Browns’ offensive line and skill-position players are poised to reap the benefits of returning to Stefanski’s offensive system for a second consecutive season.
Should you draft Kareem Hunt in 2021?
Most definitely! Hunt is one of the few fantasy running backs available in the middle rounds with standalone value. He provides you with an RB2 floor and an RB1 ceiling if Chubb were to miss significant time.
Hunt’s current ADP
According to Fleaflicker, Hunt is the RB22 with an ADP of 47. In pay-to-play formats, such as the National Fantasy Championship, Hunt is the RB23 with an ADP of 58.25.
You should not hesitate to draft Hunt at his ADP.
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