Kareem Hunt now better fantasy option than other rookie RBs

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt has a prime opportunity with Spencer Ware done for the season. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

There are two big changes to the draft board based on preseason Week 3 injuries to Julian Edelman and Spencer Ware, and lots of opinions to go with them. We looked at what the numbers said in forecasting New England Patriots receiver Chris Hogan earlier. Now let’s do the same with the fastest draft riser: Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

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With Spencer Ware out for the year with a knee injury, Hunt is the starting running back in Kansas City. The third-round pick is knocked for his bad 40-yard time at the combine, but the Chiefs traded up for him because he knocked off a tenth of a second, to 4.56, on his pro day. Remember, Terrell Davis ran a 4.72 and was one of the all-time breakaway backs. Don’t get carried away with the Underwear Olympics.

Ware was RB17 last year in PPR with 193.9 points. Coach Andy Reid has generated solid RB production in his Chiefs offense with and without Jamaal Charles. Hunt was a college workhorse and at 5-foot-10, 216 pounds has an NFL body for the position. He also caught 41 passes last year at Toledo in the MAC.

So let’s call Hunt’s floor being about RB16 and his ceiling at about RB5. So RB11 seems a fair bet. That puts him in the 20th-to-30th overall range in the group with Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Lamar Miller. I prefer Hunt over all of them. He’s been going in the second round in high stakes drafts. I understand this is higher than Ware but I’ve believed that Hunt is better than Ware and the Chiefs felt that too, trading up to take him 86th overall. 

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Backs drafted 70th-to-100th overall since 2000 include Charles, DeMarco Murray, Brian Westbrook, Miller and David Johnson. There are of course some busts like Knile Davis, Ryan Moats and Matt Jones. But Hunt has the gig and with running backs, it’s clearly mostly about opportunity and location. And the top 15 rookie RB seasons in that sample have an average ADP of 60.3 with four of the players (Mike Anderson 2000 Broncos, Alfred Morris 2012 Rams, Steve Slaton 2008 Texans and Jordan Howard 2016 Bears) going behind where the Chiefs picked Hunt. 

If you are agnostic about his admittedly unproven talent, it’s fair to wonder why Hunt has moved ahead of where Ware was drafted. My answer is that Hunt was cutting into Ware’s expected value but no serious threat is cutting into Hunt’s.

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