Unless your living under a rock, you saw the Cleveland Browns have signed running back Kareem Hunt to a 1-year deal. Now the deal is giving Hunt a little over a million but the Browns are really paying up with a huge public relations hit to the organization. Whether we like it or not, these organizations simply aren’t worried about what players do off the field but of course, only care about the player’s performance on the field, for example, Tyreek Hill and Joe Mixon are superstars in this league even after their history of off-field incidents. Regardless, as far as the 2019 season goes, we still have no clue what Hunt’s suspension will look like, as he is still on the commissioner’s exempt list. After this season though, Hunt will hit free agency but the Cleveland Browns will have the chance to match any offer he gets. First off, let’s go over this interesting conspiracy theory then we will breakdown the Browns backfield.
Conspiracy Theory: Current Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey was the man who drafted Kareem Hunt back in the third round of the 2017 NFL due to the fact he was the Kansas City Chiefs GM before his stint with the Browns. Kareem Hunt’s incident happened in Cleveland after all. Dorsey pays the hotel to release the video knowing the Chiefs will cut ties with him. Dorsey then goes on and tells Hunt to keep his head down and stay out of the media for a few months, Browns take the public relations heat, sign him, win-win, and everyone’s happy. I know it sounds crazy but it is a conspiracy theory after all.
Running Back Breakdown:
Kareem Hunt: He is obviously going to be the wild card and main factor when looking into this backfield. With him currently still on the commissioner exempt list, this leaves us wondering how many games he will be suspended for. Trusted NFL source Adam Schefter has gone on reports saying that he has beliefs that the suspension is looking at anywhere between 10-12 games. If that is true, Hunt would not have much fantasy value in the 2019 season. Regardless if we don’t like him as a person we have to admire that this dude is a total baller on the field. After a 1,782 yard and 11 total TD’s performance in his rookie year, Hunt was going bananas in year two before his suspension. In only 11 games, Hunt had 1,202 total yards with 14 total touchdowns. We will have to simply wait and see on what his suspension is before we go over his fantasy value. He is only 23 years old so this move could pay off in the long run for the Browns.
Nick Chubb: I’m sure most fantasy football players can relate but when the news broke yesterday about the Hunt signing, I felt knots in my stomach regarding Nick Chubb’s fantasy outlook for the 2019 season. After recouping, I thought about the Hunt suspension. If Hunt does get a double-digit game suspension, Chubb is going to be a top-10 fantasy RB for the 2019 season. With the Hunt signing, it’s certain that Chubb’s average draft position is going to fall, and this gives him a chance to become a potential value pick in fantasy drafts. Chubb was dominant in his 9 starts as a rookie. He was a man amongst boys, totaling 1,145 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now when Hunt is on the field, it’s looking like a surefire running back by committee. That being said, it’s not what fantasy owners wanna hear, but NFL owners and GM’s don’t care at all when it comes to fantasy.
Duke Johnson: He is certainly the last man out when it comes to value and touches in this Cleveland Browns backfield. It’s interesting to consider that Duke Johnson is now a third string RB, yet he is currently being paid as a top-15 RB. Regardless, Johnson is going to be one of those backs that will be expendable during the offseason in my opinion. The Browns may wait until they figure out the length of the Hunt suspension but if they do try and trade Johnson, I believe a couple of teams will be interested in the receiving back. For those wondering of his fantasy outlook, if he stays with the Browns, he was a third string RB for most of last season until Carlos Hyde was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnson finished with 62 targets, 47 receptions, 429 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Overall: Honestly, it’s going to come down to the Hunt suspension before we can elaborate even more on this interesting situation. For fantasy owners out there, we have a lot of complications and I know some of you feel like this is a situation to avoid but if I had to rank the running backs right now heading into the season, it’s easily Chubb > Hunt > Johnson for sure. Call me crazy, but this is already the best running backfield in the NFL.