We knew Kareem Hunt would play in the NFL again. We just didn't expect it to happen with a team that already had a fantastic young running back.
Of course, nobody knows when it'll actually happen, either.
The Browns signed Hunt on Monday to a one-year deal, less than three months after the Chiefs cut him for his part in a altercation with a woman and then lying about it. Since then, the NFL opened an investigation into three separate off-field incidents involving Hunt, the results of which will determine just how long Hunt will be suspended for. It could be as little as six games, it could be longer than one year, but whatever it is, we're a long way from Hunt significantly impacting the playing time and performance of 2018 rookie sensation Nick Chubb — or third-down back Duke Johnson.
Chances are the Browns signed Hunt without defining a role for him. Beyond the PR hit of adding someone with this violent incident in his past, they're taking a no-risk chance by merely putting him on the squad and waiting to see what happens next.
This is why no one should panic on Chubb's outlook yet. The guy had nearly 1,000 total yards in 10 games with eight total touchdowns and was remarkably consistent in Fantasy. In order for Chubb to be negatively affected, Hunt would have to be in shape, play just as strong with the Browns as he did with the Chiefs, and push for playing time once his to-be-determined suspension ends. Those are a lot of variables that shouldn't keep you up at night if you draft Chubb or have him on your dynasty team. If anything, pairing him with Hunt should become a priority, which is much easier to do in seasonal leagues as opposed to multi-year leagues.
For the time being, I'm still drafting Chubb with a late first-round pick in non-PPR and an early second-rounder in full PPR. I'm banking on his talent keeping him as the primary back for the Browns improving offense, especially while Hunt is serving his punishment .
Johnson is the one with more to lose. He's capable of playing third downs but doesn't offer the total package Hunt does. Maybe the Browns trade him and his moderately expensive contract once they're comfortable with the timetable the NFL gives them on Hunt. Or maybe Hunt earns more of Johnson's playing time than Chubb's.
Johnson was already a late-round pick on my draft board — this just pushes him further down. When would you ever feel good about starting him? Bye-week flex in PPR? Probably never in non-PPR unless injuries piled up in front of him.
That leaves Hunt as one of Fantasy's most perplexing picks. We know he's talented (15 100-total-yard outings and 26 touchdowns in 28 career games) but we know he carries tons of risk.
By the time we're in full draft season we'll know how long he's suspended for — anything longer than eight games will wipe out his value. Plus we know he'll be behind Chubb in terms of role and workload whenever he comes back.
There is no reason to risk a pick on Hunt before Round 8 (PPR or non-PPR). That could just as easily become Round Never if the suspension is long enough.