Time to Panic for Kareem Hunt Owners?

Ryan Cearfoss
@fntsyfbconnect

Kareem Hunt burst into the NFL, unlike any rookie we have ever seen. His first carry of his career he fumbled and he never looked back. Unfazed he dominated the defending champion Patriots rushing for 148 yards and a touchdown as well as adding another 98 yards by air and another 2 touchdowns. He netted 45 PPR points in his first game and added another 24 points each over the next two games.

Fantasy Football Regression

Since then he’s slowed down a little bit, not putting the ball in the end zone and not reaching the 20+ fantasy points a game we were spoiled by to start the year. This is not the time to panic over his drop in production he’s still a top tier RB who has only failed to reach double-digit fantasy points once.

Week Opponent Attempts Yards TDs Rec Yards TDs Game outcome PPR Points
1 NE 17 148 1 5 98 2 W42-27 45.6
2 PHI 13 81 2 3 28 0 W 27-20 25.9
3 LAC 17 172 1 1 11 0 W 24-10 25.3
4 WAS 21 101 0 4 20 0 W 29-20 16.1
5 HOU 29 107 0 3 9 0 W 42-34 14.6
6 PIT 9 21 0 5 89 0 L 19-13 16
7 OAK 18 87 0 4 30 0 L 30-31 15.7
8 DEN 22 46 0 3 22 0 W 29-19 9.8
9 DAL 9 37 0 4 24 0 L 28-17 10.1
Total 155 800 4 32 331 2 179.1

When looking at his weekly production you can see that it has declined over the last 4 weeks fairly significantly. The biggest trend is there are 3 losses over that point of time. In the two losses that aren’t really close he got under 10 carries. The other game with major limited production was against Denver who is a top 5 defense against the run in the league. Neither of these should be too alarming.

This type of production regression isn’t abnormal when it comes to typical NFL negative game scripts. Losing teams tend to rely on the pass when coming back no matter what caliber of running back they have. These types of games provide a false native to what a running backs typical production is. During the games where he struggles there is a silver lining that truly stands out for Hunt is his reception totals. In every game but one this season (which he had 172 rushing yards in), he had at least three receptions giving him a nice floor in PPR formats. As well with the losing game scripts, no other backs on the roster are really digging into his opportunities with Charcandrick West having no more than one catch in any games. The fact that he is this involved in the passing game makes him matchup proof even on the worst occasions.

Snap Counts

The other false narrative that is scaring fantasy owners of Hunt is the fact is his snap counts. Over the first 8 weeks of the season, Hunt averaged being on the field for 44 snaps a game. Week 9 against Dallas he was on the field for only 31 snaps giving him far less of a chance to produce. With the way the game went, he was still on the field for 57% of the team’s snaps which is a pretty significant from the 70% we are used to seeing. This has been only one occurrence though if it happened multiple games in a row it would be a trend and would become worth worrying about.

Touchdowns

The biggest area of concern for Hunt owners has been his touchdown production. On the season he has had 6 touchdowns 4 rushing and 2 receiving.  None of these have come since week 3 giving him a 5 game span not scoring at all. On the season Hunt has 19 total red-zone carries this is absurdly low compared to other top backs in the league Bell -42, Zeke- 35 and Gurley at 34. With almost half of the opportunities in a game more than the other top backs, it leaves something to be desired.

On the season Hunt scored three touchdowns in the red-zone. The other half came from plays over 50 yards. That’s over 20% of his season’s production on three plays early in the season. Even when taking this away from his total stat line on the season he is still an RB1, who has more consistent production than most of the backs in the league.

Positive Regression to Come?

With the colder weather on its way teams tend to rely more on the running game which should get Kareem more opportunities especially in the red zone. This gives him fantastic upside especially when we see that his floor is already so high. To go with it he has a fairly easy schedule left which should have a good amount of games playing with the lead or close which will get him a higher volume in carries.

The future is bright with Hunt going into the most important part of the fantasy season so don’t panic. If someone else is taking advantage and get him at a discount. In a season where everyone’s production is down and inconsistency is the norm don’t let being spoiled by an amazing start to a season fool you. Kareem Hunt is a star running back, stay the course.

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