Kareem Hunt Fantasy: Start or Sit Browns RB on Thursday Night Football?

Getty Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns

The infamous Kareem Hunt made his Cleveland Browns regular-season debut last week vs. the Buffalo Bills. The running back’s talent quickly jumped off the screen, racking up 74 yards despite limited usage.

Will Hunt’s snap count continue to rise in his second game with his team, in return also seeing an uptick in production? Or does starting running back Nick Chubb present too much of a roadblock for Hunt to reclaim his one-time placing amongst the fantasy elites? Let’s discuss.

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Kareem Hunt’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

It didn’t take long for Kareem Hunt to flash his well-known abilities in his new digs. The Cleveland Browns took no time getting the former NFL rushing leader involved in their offensive gameplan. However, fittingly enough, he was featured more as a receiver than a runner. Hunt played 54% of the team’s offensive snaps this past Sunday. Of the 38 plays he was on the field for, he touched the ball 11 times, seven of which were in the passing game.

Hunt was targeted nine times vs. the Bills, just one less target than Jarvis Landry and a meer three fewer targets than Odell Beckham. While the running back’s receiving numbers certainly piqued the interest of PPR fantasy owners worldwide, the most promising takeaway from his first game performance of 2019 was not anything that he did specifically, but rather what the Browns coaching staff did.

Kareem Hunt is a hell of a football player, we all know that, nothing has changed there. However, the major concern for owners who had held onto Hunt during the duration of his suspension was how would he be used in a backfield that also features one of the league’s few true workhorse backs.

In a league that struggles to implement multiple talented running backs within their schematics on a weekly basis, you have to give it up to Freddie Kitchens and the Browns coaching staff for their ability and initiative to get both backs on the field at the same time.

That means that Hunt was on the field for just 10 plays last Sunday while not accompanied by his running mate Nick Chubb. Hunt also outsnapped every Browns skill-player not named Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, or Nick Chubb. Essentially, Hunt is trending towards playing starting snaps on a weekly basis, even if the depth chart may not reflect that sentiment.

So, while the arrow is pointing up for Hunt over the long haul in Cleveland, what is his outlook vs. a stingy Pittsburgh Steelers defense on Thursday night? Pittsburgh has been phenomenal defending running backs this season, allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position over the first 10 weeks of play.

However, if there is one welcoming stat for Hunt owners to hone in on, it is the fact that Pittsburgh has allowed an average of 13.35 fantasy points to running backs that have hauled in five-plus receptions against them this year. Great news for Hunt, who is in a way operating as the team’s third wide receiver with Antonio Callaway benched and Rashard Higgins catching as many passes (4) as games he’s played this season (4).

Should You Start or Sit Kareem Hunt in Week 11?

While Hunt’s usage is certainly promising, Nick Chubb is still the running back to own in Cleveland. For that reason, Hunt falls out of the RB1-RB2 conversation for now. However, with that said, I believe Hunt has the makings of one the most elite flex-starts in all of fantasy down the stretch, starting in Week 11. Hunt is a solid RB3 start with upside on Thursday night.

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