Mike Fanelli | Aug 28th, 2019
Everyone has a different strategy when it comes to drafting their fantasy team. Some like to go “zero RB”, while others like to use the best player available approach. While there isn’t necessarily a correct way to draft your team, every fantasy expert will recommend to build up your running back depth in the middle rounds. Each year there is a running back that gets drafted in the middle rounds that turns out to be a plug and play starter for fantasy owners. In this fantasy battle, we will take a look at two potential options currently going in the eighth round according to Fantasy Football Calculator.
Make sure to check out all of our other Fantasy Battles here.
Rashaad Penny had a very disappointing rookie season for the Seattle Seahawks, finishing last year as the RB67, averaging just five fantasy points per game in PPR scoring. Penny dealt with injuries in the preseason and never got fully into the rotation as a rookie. Currently, Penny is being drafted as the RB36, at pick 8.02 overall. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt had an excellent season for the Kansas City Chiefs, averaging 20.9 fantasy points per game while finishing as the RB12 despite playing in just 11 games. We all know Hunt was released during last season and this offseason he signed with the Cleveland Browns. However, he will miss the first eight games of the season with a suspension. Currently, Hunt is being drafted as the RB37, at pick 8.05 overall.
Now that you have all the basic information, let’s get this fantasy battle started! I will give the positives and negatives for each player then give you my recommendation on who I would take at 1.01. For all my PPR rankings here.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks had more rushing yards than any other team in the league last year and were second in the league in rushing attempts, only behind the Baltimore Ravens. In the offseason, the Seahawks lost several players that will impact Penny’s upside. Mike Davis finished as the RB36 last year. He finished second on the team in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. However, Davis did lead the team with 34 catches on 42 targets for 214 yards and a touchdown among running backs. With Davis now in Chicago, Penny should pick up the majority of that workload. In addition to the departure of Davis, Doug Baldwin was forced to retire this offseason while second-round draft pick D.K. Metcalf might miss the first few weeks of the season.
With Davis and Baldwin gone, combined with the Seahawks drafting three rookie wide receivers, Penny should see an uptick in rushing attempts and targets. The Seahawks will likely lead the league in rushing attempts this year and Chris Carson can’t do it all on his own. While Penny only had 85 rushing attempts last year, he led the team with his 4.9 yards per carry average. In the first three preseason games, Penny has gotten the most touches of any Seahawks running back, including a team high eight targets among running backs. Given his increased workload this preseason, the team has plans to make Penny a critical part of their offense this season.
While Carson can’t carry the entire workload by himself, last year he finished with the seventh most rushing attempts in the league. Carson is clearly the team’s top running back and head coach Pete Carroll loves him. Penny would need to be spectacular to take over as the starter, and that isn’t likely to happen. Even if the Seahawks run the ball more than any other team in the league, Penny’s upside is limited if he is the Seahawks’ RB2.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns
No matter what you think of Hunt as a person, no one will argue he lacks talent. During his 27 career games in Kansas City, Hunt averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game. Could part of that be Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ fantasy friendly offense? Sure, but Hunt is a very good running back. Furthermore, the guy who drafted Hunt, John Dorsey, is the general manager in Cleveland and knows Hunt’s natural talent. In addition to his talent, Hunt will return in week 10 with fresh legs.
After the Browns traded Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans, Nick Chubb will clearly be the Browns’ feature back while Hunt is suspended. When Hunt returns, the Browns would be wise to pull back on Chubb’s workload and let the fresh legged Hunt take over as the feature back. The Browns have playoff expectations and if they want to make noise in the playoffs, they will need a healthy Chubb and Hunt to do it.
The big downside to Hunt is his eight game suspension, which means he isn’t eligible to play till week 10. While it would be smart for the Browns to take advantage of Hunt’s fresh legs, will they? They could be very happy with what Chubb is doing and not want to adjust the offense. This means Hunt isn’t guaranteed enough touches to be fantasy relevant as fantasy owners push for their playoffs. In addition to the lack of guaranteed touches, fantasy owners have to wonder, how rusty will Hunt be?
By the time Hunt returns in week 10, it will have nearly been a year since he played in a meaningful NFL game. Because of the potential rust and the lack of guaranteed touches, I wouldn’t trust playing him in week 10 as I would want to see how he looks with his new team. Furthermore, that means fantasy owners don’t have Hunt’s services for 10 of their 13 (77%) fantasy regular season games and that’s simply a waste of a draft pick.
This battle wasn’t a fair fight. With Hunt ineligible to play till week 10, I would recommend not drafting him at all because you have to tie up a bench spot for him for the majority of your regular fantasy season. I am not willing to tie up a bench spot for the majority of the regular season for any player, let alone a running back who isn’t likely to be his team’s RB1 when he returns. The only exception to this would be if your league allows you to put suspended players into your injured reserve slots.
I would recommend taking Penny and just about any other impactful running back ahead of Hunt because of his suspension. Currently, I have Penny ranked as my RB34 and Hunt as my RB63. Based on my rankings, I would recommend taking Penny at his ADP or even in the late seventh round, while I would let another owner draft Hunt and wait for him to be dropped when the bye weeks start to roll in and that owner needs a bye week filler.
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