On Sunday, Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said Ware sustained a torn posterior cruciate ligament and damaged the posterior lateral corner of his right knee, which likely will require surgery.
“He damaged those and at this point in time, our medical staff believes that he needs season-ending surgery to correct that problem,” Burkholder said. “But like with all these significant injuries, we’ll exhaust all of our options and look at second opinions and then do what’s best for Spencer’s knee and his career.”
Despite the sliver of optimism Burkholder left regarding Ware’s chances of returning — he will have second opinions — Ware will miss several games. That means the starter for now is third-round rookie Kareem Hunt, coach Andy Reid said.
“I think we’re going to be OK there,” Reid said. “Now, are we going to replace Spence? No. I mean, he’s a good football player. But the young kid (Kareem Hunt), he’ll step in and he’ll do a nice job for us.”
As the story mentions, there's a "sliver of optimism" but owners can confidently draft Kareem Hunt as the Chiefs' starter. The team gave Hunt an extended look with the starters against the Bengals, and he looked the part. Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller will get some snaps, but all indications are that it's Hunt's job to lose. He can be drafted comfortably in the 4th round of 12-team drafts and more aggressive owners can target him in the 3rd round, where there's a swoon in reliable talent at running back and receiver. Remember, in 17 games where Ware saw at least 10 carries – 13 of those games occurred in 2016 – he averaged 17.9 touches for 99 yards and 0.59 touchdowns, or 15.5 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. Those numbers would have extrapolated to No. 8 running back numbers in 2016. This is the sort of upside that Hunt has as the lead back.
The Chiefs have not given a timetable for Ware's return; however, if he avoids surgery on his PCL, it would likely be in the 4-6 week range, reportedly. For drafts this weekend though, we have moved Kareem Hunt up significantly. It's hard to estimate where his ADP will land now, but we'd guess Hunt doesn't escape the 5th round. That would be appropriate as he's solidly an RB2 now with plus ability in the passing game too.
The lack of Chiefs running success didn’t escape coach Andy Reid, who indicated the Chiefs would work harder to establish the run in their next preseason game on Saturday night against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
“We came in with the thought we wanted to throw the ball and get the quarterbacks some work in there since all four were going to play in this game,’’ Reid said of the 49ers game. “We got that part accomplished, but it took away from the run game a little bit. We saw enough from Spencer Ware and his ability to catch the football and run the football. We probably need to see a little more from Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller and Devine Redding down the way here.
“We’ll get that taken care of.’’
The Chiefs had a pass-heavy attack against the 49ers in their first game and QB Alex Smith led the way with 10 yards rushing, not something the Chiefs to see once the season starts.
From the look of things in late March, it doesn’t appear the Chiefs will have a player get to 1,000 yards rushing next season either. Their featured-back role could be split between Spencer Ware, a soon-to-be-acquired rookie and perhaps either Charcandrick West or recently signed veteran C.J. Spiller.
The story was mainly about the author feeling the team shouldn't give up on Ware, despite his struggles over the second half after a concussion. It seems pretty likely the Chiefs will be drafting a running back who could make an immediate impact so it looks as if this backfield will need to be sorted out from a fantasy angle. Right now we have Ware ranked 15th so there's still RB2 value.