NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Kareem Hunt’s tender creates Fantasy issues for Browns backfield

The Browns offense got better Monday with the expected free agent additions of Austin Hooper and Jack Conklin. But they also made another move that could be bad for Fantasy managers.

Cleveland placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent Kareem Hunt, and now the Browns backfield isn’t as appealing. Hunt is likely going to remain in Cleveland, which isn’t ideal for him or Nick Chubb.

Let’s start with Chubb, who finished 2019 as the No. 8 PPR running back. He was great in the first eight games of the season while Hunt was suspended, but his stats suffered after Hunt came back in Week 10.

In those first eight outings, Chubb averaged 18.0 PPR points per game. He averaged 19.3 carries per game and 3.1 catches per game over that span.

When Hunt was active, Chubb averaged just 12.3 PPR points per game. He averaged 18 carries per game and 1.4 catches per game over that span.

I still like Chubb as a No. 1 running back, but he should only be drafted in Round 2. If Hunt does go elsewhere, Chubb has first-round potential and would be my No. 6 running back, regardless of format. Following the move to give Hunt the second-round tender, I have Chubb as the No. 9 running back in non-PPR leagues and No. 10 in PPR.

Chubb told me at the Pro Bowl this year that he hopes Hunt stays in Cleveland.

“Kareem is my boy,” Chubb said. “He’s an amazing person. A great player. He’s fun to be around and play with. I hope to keep that going.”

For Hunt, he should be considered a No. 3 running back in all leagues, with his value higher in PPR. He did well in 2019 despite being in a secondary role, averaging 11.5 PPR points per game.

The best thing for Hunt was his involvement in the passing game. He averaged 4.6 catches per game on 5.5 targets per game. 

We’ll see how new coach Kevin Stefanski plans to use Chubb and Hunt, but I would expect Hunt’s carries to improve from the 5.4 he averaged last year. 

I’m looking at Hunt with a mid-round pick in all formats, and I would draft him as early as Round 6 in PPR. He’ll be one of the top backup running backs drafted, and he could be a star if Chubb had to miss any time due to injury.

The same goes for Chubb if Hunt had to miss any time. Or we could get lucky and a team offers a second-round pick in the NFL Draft for Hunt, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Now, we’re left with a backfield that is great for the Browns, but not ideal for Fantasy managers.

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