Kareem Hunt was suspended for the first half of last season but made an instant impact on the Browns’ offense as a change of pace back upon his return in Week 9. Hunt’s hybrid role led to him getting 43 carries and 44 targets over eight games. Hunt used that workload to exhibit the same type of versatility that turned him into a star in Kansas City by netting 5.8 yards per touch, placing him in the top 10 among all running backs. There is no reason to think Hunt’s role will diminish this season, even with a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski. New Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea suggested Hunt was in the competition to assume some duties as Cleveland’s third wide receiver in addition to his work out of the backfield on third downs. Hunt should have standalone value as a flex play due to his efficiency as a runner and pass catcher. If he were to actually add receiver duties to his role or Nick Chubb went down with an injury, Hunt’s fantasy stock would soar to unanticipated heights.
Hunt’s rushing workload will never be consistent working behind Nick Chubb. Hunt only received 43 carries over his eight games last year, so it seems unlikely he will exceed 100 this year even if he plays in all 16 games. This means that Hunt will be somewhat game script dependent. If Cleveland is ahead on the scoreboard, they will likely favor pounding the ball between the tackles with Chubb as opposed to using Hunt in space. Hunt also has red flags off the field. His older issues are well documented, but Hunt was pulled over with marijuana in his car as recently as this offseason. Any further missteps off the field would tank Hunt’s value as he would likely face a lengthy suspension from the league.
2020 Bottom Line
Hunt is one of the most intriguing running backs on the board in the middle rounds. He is the rare “backup” running back who can be started in fantasy even when his team's starter is healthy due to his versatility and unique role in the Cleveland offense. Hunt’s excellence in the passing game means he can be drafted as a flex play in PPR leagues and has upside for much more if he stumbles into a larger role than expected.