By Richard Jenkins
Every offense coached by Andy Reid has one thing in common: a bell cow running back. First it was Brian Westbrook, then LeSean McCoy onto Jamaal Charles, Andy Reid focuses the offense around a pro bowl running back. Following the release of 3x All-Pro but often injured Charles, the Kansas City Chiefs were back in the market for a new dagger in Reid’s arsenal. In the 3rd round of this year’s draft, the Chiefs nabbed their guy – Kareem Hunt of Toledo.
Hunt’s College Career
Kareem Hunt was recruited by the Toledo Rockets as a three-star recruit out of Ohio. He was immediately thrust onto the field as a true freshman and delivered results. Hunt finished his career as a 2x First-Team All-Mac performer (2014, 2016) and was named MVP of the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl after rushing for 271 yards and 5 touchdowns. Kareem had only 1 fumble in his 586 collegiate touches and recovered it himself.
Hunt was ranked as the 8th-10th best running back in the draft by most draft evaluators. He was ultimately taken with the 86th pick by the Chiefs. (RB6) Kansas City traded their 3rd round pick, 4th round pick and 7th round pick with the Minnesota Vikings in order to move up in the draft to select Hunt. One NFL scout was quoted as saying Kareem “may not have the Cook’s level of explosiveness or Fournette’s power, but Hunt still has a solid blend of both that allows him to turn the corner on the outside or explode into the secondary. His patience and vision allow him to sift through traffic and find daylight between the tackles.”
Hunt has landed in an ideal spot to make an immediate impact. The incumbent Spencer Ware is expected to enter camp as the starter. The running game is KC is a little unsettled as Ware only received 65% of the snap share in 2016, (No. 16 among starting running backs) despite starting 14 games. Ware put up respectable numbers and finished as RB16 while filling in for the injured Charles. Hunt will have the opportunity to come into camp in line for the number 2 job while competing for the starting position with Ware. Hunt is expected to instantly be on the field for 3rd down and passing down plays.
As mentioned before, Andy Reid loves having a bell cow running back in his offense. Since 2004, Reid’s RB1’s have averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game, as documented in this tweet by PFF’s Scott Barrett:
With fellow 2016 draftee quarterback Patrick Mahomes possibly taking the starting quarterback job in 2018, I expect the Chiefs to play it safe with their young QB early on in his career. That means a lot of running plays and check downs to the running backs. If Hunt unseats Ware sometime in 2017 as the starting running back, Hunt would have every opportunity to play and produce like his predecessors Westbrook, McCoy, and Charles.
Redraft- Kareem Hunt will have some value in a redraft slate as a passing down back. Hunt is in a similar situation this season as Giovani Bernard was in his rookie season in 2013. Bernard, backing up BenJarvus Green-Ellis, rushed for 695 yards and 5 touchdowns while catching 56 passes for 514 yards and 3 touchdowns. While Hunt isn’t quite as pure a receiver as Bernard, I expect Hunt to put up similar numbers.
Redraft Draft Stock: The rookie currently remains as the handcuff to Spencer Ware. I would draft him in the 10th round or later after all starters have been selected. The upside is there, but until he takes over the starting role, I would select him late and stash if you have a deep bench.
Dynasty- Hunt has all the tools to be a starting running back in the NFL. Being selected by a bell cow coach, Hunt will have the opportunity to be an RB1 and replicate the 19.5 PPR points per game. He will have to wait his turn early in 2017 while backing up Ware. If Ware struggles, Reid will not hesitate to insert the rookie into the game.
Dynasty Draft Stock: The destination in Kansas City really shot him up draft boards. I have him ranked as my 10th best player on the board and a definite first round dynasty pick. Ware signed a 2-year contract with KC in 2016, but has the option to opt out after this season. If Reid gets Hunt the time on the field, don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs move on from Ware.