Jesse Pantuosco

Bump and Run

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Good Kareem Hunting

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Remember when fantasy football was considered a niche industry? Well those days are well behind us and if you want proof, look no further than Season 14 of The Bachelorette, featuring ProFootballFocus analyst Mike Renner. Finally, one of us! Even though he only lasted a few episodes, we all owe Mike a great debt for debunking the common (edit: wholly inaccurate) perception that all fantasy football writers are dweeby stat-crunchers who live in their parents’ basement.

 

It’s not just Mike, either. Football has had its fingerprints all over reality TV this summer. Renner was joined on The Bachelorette by journeyman tight end Clay Harbor and ex-Raiders practice-squadder Colton Underwood. You probably had to Wikipedia the last two guys I mentioned, but Jay Cutler has long been a household name. Sure, he’s made a million or two hucking pigskins around, however, Cutler’s real claim to fame is his sloth-like energy and signature apathy towards … well just about everything. You might think Cutler has been playing us all these years in the interest of branding, promoting himself as some sort of aloof genius, but the clips from his new reality venture with wife Kristin Cavallari prove otherwise. To be very clear, I haven’t actually watched the show, though I’ve spent the past day-and-a half binging 20-second Cutler clips on Twitter because I use my time wisely. Anyway, here’s a gem from Sunday’s premiere of Very Cavallari on E!

 

 

In case you were too distracted by Cutler’s smug face to actually listen to the words coming out of his mouth, let me transcribe the conversation for you:

 

Cavallari: Have you thought about—when you do get bored—what you’re going to do?

 

Cutler: No.

 

Cavallari: Well maybe you should.

 

Cutler: I’m not really looking to do a lot of work right now. I’m looking to do the exact opposite of that.

 

You and me both, Jay. I’m a little afraid to admit this, mostly for fear of my boss reading it and immediately dumping more work on my plate, but sometimes being a fantasy football writer actually doesn’t feel like work. Take yesterday, for example. While both of my roommates were slaving away at their 9-5s, I was at home refreshing my Scott Fish Bowl draft every 10 minutes, waiting to see if Leonard Fournette would fall to me in the second round (of course he went one pick before me).

 

“Is that for work?” one of my roommates will inevitably ask me. “Sort of,” is the usual response. I can’t tell you how many looks of disbelief I’ve received over the years when people ask me what I do for work. “So basically your job is just to watch football and play in fantasy leagues?” Hey, it’s harder than it looks!

 

It seems like many of you have taken a page out of Smokin’ Jay’s book, because when I asked for your mailbag questions this week, all I heard were crickets (though you guys did come through when I called for submissions a second time). Fourth of July, the World Cup, wedding season, I get it. Fantasy football isn’t the first thing on anyone’s mind right now. I’ll give you a pass this week, but for the next mailbag, I want full participation. Sound good? Now for your questions.

 

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What’s a realistic floor for Kareem Hunt?

 

If you didn’t pay attention to football at all last year and somehow stumbled upon Kareem Hunt’s year-end stats, you’d probably think, “Wow, this guy is legit!” And it’s hard to argue that very logical conclusion—Hunt led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards last season, which is no small feat. But those of you who invested heavily in Hunt know that doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

The rookie looked like a legitimate MVP candidate early in the year, blowing up for 775 yards (609 rushing, 166 receiving) and six touchdowns over his first five games. That’s Le’Veon-esque production but unfortunately for Hunt owners, that trend wouldn’t last. Suddenly the rookie became allergic to touchdowns—he went nine games without one between Weeks 4-13.

 

A nine-game scoring drought is a bitter pill for any fantasy owner to swallow, but that’s not even the worst of it. Hunt’s workload went down the tubes midseason as the rookie endured a stretch where he went seven games without topping 100 yards rushing. He averaged 13.7 carries per game during that span compared to 19.4 over his first five contests. Then, out of the clear blue sky, Hunt regained his super powers, exploding for 485 yards from scrimmage (397 rushing, 88 receiving) with four touchdowns over his final four regular season games. That includes Week 17, when Hunt logged just five snaps in a meaningless win over Denver—the Chiefs were already locked into the No. 4 seed and rested most of their starters.

 

So which Hunt should fantasy owners expect in 2018—the world-beater we saw both early and late last season or the underachiever who disappeared for two months in the middle of the year? Volume is the straw that stirs the drink in fantasy and that will certainly be the key to Hunt’s success. Not including his abbreviated Week 17, Hunt averaged 25.9 touches per game in games the Chiefs won last year compared to just 15.2 in their six losses.

 

So I guess the question then becomes, do we think the Chiefs will be any good this year? KC traded long-time field general Alex Smith this offseason but that was only to pave the way for promising 22-year-old Pat Mahomes, who the Chiefs traded up to take 10th overall in last year’s draft. Mahomes is unproven (62 snaps last year) but certainly offers breakout potential as a big-armed gunslinger on an offense that added red-zone wizard Sammy Watkins this offseason. Vegas set the over/under for Chiefs wins at 8.5, which sounds about right. I suppose it’s worth noting that Spencer Ware is back after missing all of last year with a torn PCL, though I don’t consider him a major threat to Hunt’s workload, especially coming off a major injury.

 

Hunt’s midseason disappearance will surely scare off at least some percentage of the fantasy community, but I’m still comfortable drafting him late in the first round. For reference, Hunt just went eighth overall (RB7 behind RB6 Alvin Kamara and ahead of RB8 Dalvin Cook) in my Scott Fish Bowl draft. I had him as the RB7 in my personal rankings as well, so it’s definitely not a reach to take him that early.

 


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Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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