by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft it’s easy to think that Kareem Hunt didn’t land in an ideal spot to produce immediately. After all Spencer Ware is coming off a season where he rushed for 921 yards in 14 games, while adding 33 catches for another 447 yards. However there are two red flags that hang over him:
1) Can he handle a full load over an entire season?
Just look at his yards per carry, which trended down as the season progressed:
- September – 4.9
- October – 5.1
- November – 4.1
- December – 3.3
That alone could ticket Hunt for a significant role before long.
2) Where are the TD?
Ware rushed for 3 TD and caught 2 more, giving him an unimpressive 5 TD despite operating as the lead back. Obviously it’s not a fair comparison, but Hunt rushed for 10 TD in his final season at Toledo and a total of 38 TD over his final three seasons. Given this description, courtesy of ESPN, is it a stretch to think that Hunt could immediately function as the short yardage/goal line back:
“Thick, strong lower-body. Runs low and behind his pads. Very good balance through contact. Good center of gravity. Bounces and spins off of a lot of tackles. Not overpowering, but runs hard, lowers his shoulder, and has a knack for initiating contact and ping-ponging off of defenders. Lower-body explosiveness was also seen in his above-average vertical jump (36.5′) and broad jump (9’11′) at the Combine.Only knock here is that he got tripped up from behind too many times on tape.”
Hunt has also proven capable of catching the football (41 catches in his final college season), giving him an intriguing total package. Running backs drafted in the third round are generally expected to make an impact, and while it may not seem that Hunt is in line to thrive immediately the opportunity should be there.
Generally fantasy owners are targeting the shiny new toy, but Hunt is not getting the same hype as other rookie runners (average ADP):
- Leonard Fournette – 20.7
- Christian McCaffrey – 35.0
- Joe Mixon – 36.7
- Dalvin Cook – 53.7
- Kareem Hunt – 105.7
We are not going to compare Hunt to the other four, but he has the potential to make an impact and is coming more than 50 picks later. As a ninth round selection, meaning he’ll be a RB3/RB4 (bench player), he’s a no brainer selection. Given the questions Ware is facing, would it really be a surprise to see Hunt emerge as the starter and score a significant number of TD?
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out our early 2017 Rankings: