Fantasy Football: Kareem Hunt suspension fallout impacts Nick Chubb too

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Kareem Hunt will miss the first eight games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, the NFL announced Friday. What happens when he comes back is a total unknown, but it’s hard to believe he’ll be in a situation like the one he was in with the Chiefs.

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Not that the Browns care. Their risky signing will pay off with another quality playmaker on the field fresh and ready for the second half of the season. It’s good for them but potentially frustrating for us, particularly as it stands for Nick Chubb’s Fantasy outlook.

We do know that Hunt has talent. Between his rushing, receiving and blocking, he’s proven he can handle every down and distance. And since he has that as part of his on-field reputation, you can be sure he will have some role when he’s eligible to play again.

To get an idea of what that role might be, we checked back on how Browns coach Freddie Kitchens used Chubb in the eight games he called plays in last year. 

Game

Chubb rush stats

Chubb snap %

37-21 loss vs KC

22-85-1

49%

28-16 win vs ATL

20-176-1*

79%

35-20 win at CIN

28-84-1*

72%

29-13 loss at HOU

9-31-1

47%

26-20 win vs CAR

13-66-1

63%

17-16 win at DEN

20-100-0

60%

26-18 win vs CIN

19-112-0

57%

26-24 loss at BAL

9-24-0

37%

You can see the link between Chubb’s usage and Browns wins — he was on the field at least 57 percent of the time when the Browns won and under 50 percent when they lost. Clearly, the Browns love what they have in Chubb but don’t necessarily see him as the best option in obvious passing situations, which was when Duke Johnson came on the field in 2018. Under Kitchens, Johnson had 27 receptions and 18 carries in eight games.

That’s the job Hunt could take when he comes off the suspended list. The Browns could trade Johnson (something that could happen at any point between now and the NFL trade deadline in October) and immediately fill his spot with Hunt and his 10.5-yard per catch average and 81 percent catch rate.

And that’s the scenario Fantasy owners should bank on at this point — Chubb dominates the carries through the first half of the season, giving up some passing situations. If Chubb is succeeding, Hunt will just stick to a passing downs role with maybe a few more carries than Johnson would get, especially in blowout wins or losses to keep Chubb from wearing down. If Chubb struggles, Hunt could get a bigger slice of the action. 

Is all this going to push Chubb into Round 2 on Draft Day? Yeah, it is. He was always going to be a Round 2 pick in PPR but now you’ll see him there in non-PPR based solely on the uncertainty involving Hunt in the back-half of the year. But if Hunt simply fills in as a supplementary back, something we won’t know for sure until November, it’ll make Chubb in Round 2 a mild bargain. There’s just no reason to press for Chubb in Round 1 unless you have to have him.

Hunt’s a much different story. He’s going to clog a Fantasy bench spot for the first eight weeks (or nine depending on the Browns’ bye) of the Fantasy season without any guarantee of being as good as he was in Kansas City. The Fantasy managers who take Chubb with a top-20 pick will target Hunt in Round 7, the rest of the Fantasy world won’t be quite as wired into him until at least Round 8.

Think of Hunt as a backup running back this season. When you consider taking him, make sure you’re not leaving a different backup running back with high upside for someone else to select. Talking about guys like Rashaad Penny or Ito Smith. Those potential-filled guys (and the rookies who figure to be in the same situation) will have eight weeks to evolve into a lead back for their teams. You’d rather get ahead with one of those rushers than wait two months and hope for Hunt to become special again.

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