Fantasy 5: Let the Kareem Hunt hype begin
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
We’ve now seen all NFL teams play at least twice in the preseason. With the exception of the Giants, who wrap up preseason Week 2 on Monday night, we’ve seen nearly every team’s starters get at least a few offensive possessions.
Week 3 of the preseason is also known as the regular season dress rehearsal. However, once the starters get rolling in Week 2, the hype and buzz starts to build around several narratives.
Today, our goal is to get you thinking about those players and their current value in relation to your chances to win your league in 2017. Here’s today’s Fantasy 5:
1. Kareem Hunt could soon be everyone’s favorite “sleeper” pick
Spencer Ware played one snap with the Chiefs starters on Saturday before giving way to rookie running back Kareem Hunt. Head coach Andy Reid wanted to see what Hunt looked like with the starters, according to the Chiefs’ in-house game broadcasters. Reid must have liked what he saw. Hunt exploded for 40 yards rushing on eight carries and 23 yards receiving on three receptions.
On just 17 snaps, Hunt totaled 63 yards, forced two missed tackles, and created 32 yards after first contact. This should be no surprise to those who read PFF’s NFL Draft guide. Hunt was PFF’s No. 6 overall running back and he had a better elusive rating than all but four backs in the 2017 class. Hunt’s ADP is currently at 8.03 per FF Calculator, but it is sure to take a massive jump after Saturday’s performance. Ware is a more effective back than given credit for and he has experience within the Chiefs’ scheme as a runner, receiver, and pass protector. One of the biggest concerns for PFF’s draft analysts was Hunt’s lack of experience in pass protection due to being used so often as a receiver.
Before we can anoint him the Chiefs’ new starter and breakout fantasy pick, he will have to prove himself in pass protection. The situation is shaping up as a complete 180 from where it was a week ago — with Ware emerging as a value and Hunt potentially becoming an overdrafted buzz player in drafts from this point on.
2. We can’t fully write off the Rams passing attack
Jared Goff had his best performance since entering the NFL on Saturday night. Goff displayed excellent poise in the pocket with the Rams’ revamped offensive line featuring elite left tackle and free agent acquisition Andrew Whitworth. Goff completed 16-of-20 pass attempts for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Raiders first-team defense. He completed 83.3 percent of his passes when he wasn’t under pressure. Constant pressure isn’t the only reason Goff struggled so mightily as a rookie, but the improvement in pass protection combined with the upgrade in offensive scheme under first-year head coach Sean McVay is still going overlooked by drafters as evidenced by the ADP of Goff, Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and all Rams receivers and passing game players.
3. Rex Burkhead’s ADP is about to take a massive jump
Mike Gillislee’s lingering hamstring issues have opened the door for Burkhead to finally showcase the skill set he flashed at times with the Bengals while operating in a Tom Brady-led Patriots offense. Burkhead worked as the first and second-down running back with Brady (subbing out for James White on third downs) exclusively in Saturday’s second preseason game. He finished having played 13-of-16 snaps. Burhead racked up 20 yards rushing on seven carries and made his mark in the passing game with 50 yards on three receptions. The highlight of his night was a 22-yard angle route where Burkhead made the linebacker in coverage look silly. Before Saturday, Burkhead’s ADP was in the 13th-to-14th-round range. You will start to see him surface in the 10th round as early as this week. And he’s still worth it. The Patriots haven’t had a running back who can run routes like Burkhead since Danny Woodhead.
4. Tarik Cohen needs to be on your PPR radar
Cohen drew the start for the Chicago Bears with Jordan Howard out on Saturday and he exploded for 77 total yards on just 11 touches. The 5-foot-6 running back has drawn Darren Sproles comparison, most likely for his size, and his 4.42 speed was on full display in Saturday’s game. Cohen snapped off two separate runs of 16 yards showing great burst and surprising success at getting to the edge and running between the tackles. Cohen adds a different element to the Bears offense than Howard, and given his prowess as a receiver, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him emerge as the passing down and change-of-pace back. The Bears project to play from behind often in 2017 and that could lead to a game script that is favorable for a passing down back. If Cohen takes hold of that job, he will have standalone value in PPR leagues.
5. Injury roundup
- Seahawks starting left tackle George Fant is out for the season with a torn ACL. Fant graded out as a well below-average left tackle in 2016, but the team expected a big jump in 2017. The Seahawks’ already paper-thin offensive line can’t afford injuries like this one if they want to revive their run game in 2017.
- Jordan Matthews (chest) returned to individual drills in Sunday’s practice. Some are projecting Matthews to emerge as the Bills’ No. 1 target in the passing game, but he is learning a new offensive scheme and quarterback, so missing practice time will not help.
- Titans head coach Mike Mularkey remains optimistic that first-round pick Corey Davis (hamstring) will suit up for a preseason game. Davis truthers are hoping he doesn’t so they can still get a discount on draft day.
- Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said Devonta Freeman is still in the concussion protocol. It’s not time to worry just yet, considering Jay Ajayi had a two-week absence before returning fine, but it’s something to monitor as the regular season nears.