Kareem Hunt will return to the field this week, so how will his presence impact the Browns from fantasy perspective.
Kareem Hunt has completed an eight-game suspension, and he’ll be able to play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens has said the league’s leading rusher in 2017 will have a role, however obviously, and according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal Kitchens has gone further and hinted Nick Chubb’s touches will take a hit.
Chubb has been the best thing going in the Browns’ offense this season, as he sits fourth in the league in rushing (803 yards) while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. That has obviously translated to him being a robust fantasy asset, at RB6 in standard and full-point PPR leagues through Week 9.
So the idea of Hunt cutting into Chubb’s touches in any major way feels foolish, even with Hunt’s talent in mind. But could his presence be good for the Browns’ offense? And raise the fantasy prospects of everyone?
In the last two games, previous No. 2 running back Dontrell Hilliard has played 38 and 40 percent of the offensive snaps for the Browns. Over that span, he has six carries for 18 yards (five carries in Week 9) and six receptions for 30 yards (on six targets). It’s safe to assume Hunt would do more same amount of touches with a similar snap share.
Owing mostly to Baker Mayfield’s struggles, Cleveland is 29th in the NFL in third-down conversion rate (30.6 percent). Hunt should help the offense be more effective and efficient, perhaps with a tilt toward work on passing downs. Putting Chubb and Hunt on the field at the same time sometimes also has to be on the table.
Hunt was surely drafted and stashed in a lot of fantasy leagues, but then possibly dropped as bye weeks became a factor. Even with an upward trend so far this week in anticipation of his return, he’s still owned in just 64.9 percent of ESPN leagues and 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of Wednesday morning. Now is obviously to go out and add him if possible.
If you’ve been stashing Hunt all season, payoff time is here. It’s hard to recommend starting him, even as a flex option with six teams on a bye this week against the Bills, but going forward he should be on that flex radar in 12-team leagues. As for impact on Chubb, he’s still a sure-fire RB1. The fantasy prospects for Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. also naturally rise with Hunt’s presence.