Mythbusters: Is Kareem Hunt a special talent in Fantasy Football?
by: Tyler Ghee (@TylerGheeNFL)
After the release of Kareem Hunt by the Kansas City Chiefs, many Fantasy Football Dynasty owners began the search for understanding. What does the future hold for Kareem Hunt? Should we be buying based on his talent? Is he done in the NFL? What can we expect if he goes to another team? All these questions and more made him a prime suspect for my new Mythbusters series.
This series takes a look at individual players and uses data and evidence to support or refute a claim or hypothesis. I, as a writer, will be impartial and present one of two conclusions.
CONFIRMED (Data supports the claim or hypothesis)
BUSTED (Data does NOT support the claim or hypothesis )
The hypothesis: Kareem Hunt is a special talent in Fantasy Football.
In order to discover if this “Myth” is Confirmed or Busted, we must look at what data we have at hand, both from a player and system standpoint.
First, let us look at Kareem Hunt as a runner and compare him to elite running backs in the NFL. Below is a chart depicting some of the most prolific runners in the NFL: Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, and for a good comparison, Kareem Hunt. The measurement on which I have chosen to evaluate each of these players is fantasy points per opportunity. Rather than look at these players’ game to game stats or seasonal stats, let us evaluate them on their fantasy production based on each carry and target they have received (ppr). This standard was also chosen as this statistic is not affected by any missed games or injury.
Doing a quick scan it appears that Kareem Hunt is in the same company as these other great running backs. Kareem Hunt, accruing 1.07 fantasy points per opportunity, falling barely short of Todd Gurley’s 1.09 and Christian McCaffrey’s 1.11. This evidence is in favor of Kareem Hunt being a special talent. Furthering this evidence, below is a graph showing each of the same runners’ average points per game. Adding more evidence to the talent and nature of Kareem Hunt.
However, in each situation, one must consider nature vs. nurture. The ever lurking question: Is Kareem Hunt special as a player or rather a product of the system in which he was placed?
In order to evaluate this concern, the points per opportunity metric was used again. This time, however, with the last primary running backs for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Scanning this information, we can see some concerns. Contrary to expectations, we do not see Kareem Hunt leaps and bounds above any of the other running backs in the backfield. Damien Williams actually leaps above the pack having 1.36 fantasy points per opportunity (2018). Kareem Hunt actually ties with Spencer Ware in this department at 1.07 fantasy points per opportunity (2018). This could be due to considerably less opportunity for Spencer Ware and Damien Williams. As a counterpoint, Spencer Ware did manage to have an opportunity ratio of 1.06 in 2016 prior to Kareem Hunt’s arrival.
Let us then consider the long-standing coach, Andy Reid. and the history of his backfield.
Below is the fantasy finishes for each of Andy Reid’s running backs.
Looking at the above graph, we can see that Andy Reid has a has a long history of running back production, having only 3 years where he did not produce a running back in the top 24 of fantasy production. Continuing my research, I found the following table:
Although missing 2018, what immediately stands out is the first line. The average lead running back for Andy Reid has 939 yards, 471 reception yards, and 9.5 touchdowns. Converting this to fantasy points (standard as I am unsure of reception totals) means the average running back for Andy Reid scores 198 fantasy points in a standard format. Putting this in perspective, an average running back for Andy Reid would have finished as RB10 in 2018. Thus, his coaching style on average produces a top option in standard formats.
Kareem Hunt is NOT a special talent when it comes to fantasy football or there is not enough evidence to state that he is. He is an above average running back, but there seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence that he was a product of a prolific offense and coaching scheme laid out by Andy Reid. I do think he will go somewhere and contribute to a team, but in no way contribute as he has in the past.
When it comes down to it, every player, or anything in life, it always comes down to price. If Kareem Hut can be gotten fat a discount, then by all means buy. However, you should be mindful of the data laid out in this paper and temper expectations. If I owned Kareem Hunt, I would sell. I would sell once he transfers to another team and his price tag goes up with the hype. I think this also points to the expectations that Damien Williams could hit as long as he remains the first option in an Andy Reid lead offense.