The NFL world was caught by complete surprise with the monumental announcement made on Monday, February 11th. No, it wasn’t Kyler Murray spurning the Oakland Athletics in order to fully commit to an NFL career. It was the announcement of the Browns signing former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.
This signing was met with a lot of vitriol for obviously reasons, but let’s stick purely to the fantasy football side of things for this article. What does this mean for Hunt’s fantasy value in 2019? Maybe more importantly, what does this mean for Nick Chubb?
Many fantasy experts had Chubb sneaking into the back end of the first round of fantasy drafts in their early rankings/mocks. He didn’t crack my first round or even top 15, but he was a surefire second-round pick for me. Now, can we really be sure of anything?
There’s no doubt the Browns are compiling a corps of talented skill position players that is nearly unrivaled in the NFL. But fantasy owners aren’t drafting the Browns, they’re drafting individual players. Both Hunt and Chubb are extremely talented, but they both can’t produce at a first-round level.
Hunt will still likely face some league discipline. He’ll be on the Commissioner’s Exempt List until that’s sorted out, but it’s likely fantasy owners will know the extent of his punishment by the time draft season rolls around. However, his talent combined with the presumably high-powered Cleveland offense is enticing.
In 2017, his rookie season, Hunt was the No. 5 RB in fantasy on a points per game basis. In his 11 games in 2018 before his release, he was the No. 8 RB on a per-game basis.
On the other hand, since taking over as the full-time starter in Week 7, Chubb was the No. 15 RB in fantasy on a per game basis and No. 8 in total points. That doesn’t even include his 105-yard, 2-TD performance in Week 4 against the Raiders.
Although Chubb showed some signs of life as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, he’s clearly far inferior in that role when compared to Hunt. It’s hard to argue that Hunt isn’t a better overall player in every facet of the position aside from yards after contact. The overall disparity isn’t huge, though, but it’s enough to be concerned about if you have Chubb in a keeper league or want to spend a second-round pick on him.
This is a classic wait-and-see approach heading into fantasy drafts. Could this turn into an Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram scenario where both RBs are playable every single week? Maybe. But who’s the Kamara of this group? I tend to think that will be Hunt. Even if Hunt is suspended for 4 or 6 games, how confident are you in drafting Chubb high if his workload will be reduced down the stretch or in the fantasy playoffs? Whose ceiling is higher?
Until we have more information, I’d advise against drafting either one of these players in the first four rounds. I’m not delusional, though. I know following that advice means you won’t have an opportunity to get either player. I’m fine with that. There are a lot safer options out there and the most likely scenario is that both Hunt and Chubb cut into each other’s workload. However, if Hunt is suspended for 8 games and his ADP drops outside the top 100, then I’d buy low.