Who Should Trade for Kareem Hunt?

Updated: Sep 6

Written by: Damian Paton (@boltupfantasy)



Intro

Since entering the NFL in 2017, Kareem Hunt has proven to be one of the most talented and capable running backs in the entire league. Before departing from Kansas City, Hunt was utilized as a true every down running back, a role in which he excelled in. In fact, Hunt led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie in 2017, with 1,327 yards.

Below are Hunt’s season averages as the lead back in Kansas City.

As a rusher:

227 rushing attempts

1,075 rushing yards

7.5 rushing touchdowns

As a receiver:

40 receptions

417 receiving yards

5 receiving touchdowns

These averages INCLUDE the 5 games that Hunt missed in 2018, meaning he put up these numbers in just 27 of a possible 32 games. In fantasy football terms, these averages add up to 261.2 PPR fantasy points, which would have been good enough for third at the position in 2021, trailing only Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler.

With Hunt officially requesting a trade as of the morning of August 7th, one of the league’s most explosive and well-rounded offensive weapons may potentially be on the move. Hunt is asking to be compensated as a top-tier running back in the league, which he has clearly proven to be. With Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson also on Cleveland’s roster, Hunt could very well be expendable at the right cost. Let’s take a look at some of the best potential landing spots for Kareem Hunt in real life and fantasy football!


Houston Texans

The Houston Texans make a lot of sense on paper to be involved in the mix for Hunt. The team in general is in dire need for elite talent across all positions, specifically on offense. As the roster currently stands, Marlon Mack (who is looking to play his first full season since suffering a torn achilles in 2020) and 4th round rookie Dameon Pierce are set to top the Texans’ RB depth chart.

If the Texans have any true desire to build around 2nd year QB Davis Mills, they’re going to need to set him up for success. An elite running back who is excellent in pass protection as well as receiving the ball out of the backfield like Kareem Hunt would take so much pressure off of Mills. The Texans are likely going to try and grind out wins in low scoring, defensive-led affairs. Pairing Hunt with that style of play would be an outstanding fit!


Los Angeles Rams

It’s felt like every huge signing or trade over the past few seasons in the NFL has involved the Los Angeles Rams. Most notably, they’ve acquired players like QB Matthew Stafford, CB Jalen Ramsey, LB Bobby Wagner, WR Allen Robinson II, OLB Von Miller, and even RB Sony Michel. With that said, I’m sure their ears perked up when they heard a player of Kareem Hunt’s caliber may be available via trade.

Yes, the team does currently have Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr topping their RB depth chart. Both players have absolutely shown flashes in the pros, but both players have reasons to believe the Rams may not be done with adding talent to that position group. While Akers was able to return from his Achilles tear in less than six months, the efficiency he displayed down the Rams’ playoff stretch was very poor. Akers averaged 2.6 yards per carry in the postseason. Henderson Jr has shown to be a productive player when given the opportunity, however, it’s been apparent over the past few years that Henderson Jr can’t withstand a full workload. In fact, Henderson Jr has seemed to be most efficient when used in a complimentary role.

With Akers and Henderson Jr being no guarantee to make it through the 2022 season, adding talent to the RB room makes a lot of sense. I think it’s important to mention the recent QB Matthew Stafford elbow injury news we’ve received. If the Rams for any reason can’t rely on the arm of Stafford like they did last year, adding a back like Kareem Hunt would alleviate a lot of pressure for whoever the Rams have under center.


Atlanta Falcons

Now this may be the most realistic landing spot for Kareem Hunt. I would imagine that the Falcons don’t view themselves as a team who can make a true playoff push this season, considering they’re starting Marcus Mariota at QB in 2022. However, the team does have two young and highly talented pieces on offense, TE Kyle Pitts and WR Drake London. Adding a back to this offense like Kareem Hunt would make the Falcons one of the most appealing offenses for a QB to join in 2023.

The Falcons RB group is currently led by 31 year old Cordarralle Patterson and 5th round rookie Tyler Allgeier. While Patterson proved to be an effective weapon in 2021, I don’t think it’d be wise for the team to bank on the same level of productivity in 2022. As for Allgeier, the hit rate on 5th round rookie running backs being productive immediately in the NFL must be significantly low. Of all of the teams I mention, this team has the absolute least invested into their current RB group. Which could indicate that they’re the most likely team to push for acquiring Kareem Hunt, who would immediately be the team’s most established offensive weapon.


San Francisco 49ers

Surprise, you’re reading an article about a running back who may soon be available and the 49ers are one of the suggested teams to acquire said player. While the 49ers seem to have 34 running backs on the roster at all times, the team has not had a repeating rushing yard leader since Carlos Hyde did so from 2015-2017. Yes, Elijah Mitchell flashed as a rookie and has seemed to earn the favor of HC Kyle Shanahan. However, the 49ers only invested a 6th round pick on Mitchell, so the team’s loyalty to Mitchell is likely pretty low. As we’ve seen over the years, Shanahan is going to give the ball to whoever has the hot-hand. If Kareem Hunt were to join the 49ers, he would easily become the most talented and multi-faceted running back that Kyle Shanahan has had since joining the 49ers.

With the team moving on to QB Trey Lance, the offense is likely going to be significantly run-heavy (as every Shanahan offense has been) in attempts to help facilitate a comforting environment for the young QB. Adding an RB with the talent of Hunt would make this offense impossible to defend on paper. With weapons in the passing game like WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle, and WR Brandon Aiyuk, Kareem Hunt would push this offense into what might be considered the most dynamic in all of football.

The 49ers have invested a total of 3 first round draft picks on QB Trey Lance. This indicates that they will likely do whatever it takes to prove Lance was worth all of that capital. While the team has several highly-paid positional players, having Lance on his rookie deal for the next several years provides the team with a bit of wiggle room from a financial standpoint.


Buffalo Bills

If the Bills gifted Josh Allen with an every down running back who excels as a pass catcher and is one of the most explosive rushers in the league, I think the league would just have to give them the Lombardi trophy and save us all the trouble. In all seriousness, Josh Allen who is considered as one of the top 5 talents at the position, has never played with an elite running back option. He’s played with an aging Lesean McCoy, Devin Singletary, and Zack Moss, all of which would likely be considered backup or rotational offenses on any other NFL roster.

The team is currently set to send out Devin Singletary and 2nd round rookie James Cook as their top RB options this season. While Singletary was effective down the stretch of last year and James Cook is one of the most highly regarded rookie RBs coming into this season, neither player is on the level of Kareem Hunt. In fact, I believe that Singletary and James Cook, more specifically, would profile as outstanding complimentary pieces to Kareem Hunt. James Cook: 5’11 and 190 pounds; Devin Singletary: 5’7 and 203 pounds; Kareem Hunt: 5’11 and 217 pounds. Hunt is easily the biggest and most well rounded option of the three. He would be instantly be regarded as one of fantasy football’s top RB options if he were to join what is already one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL

Outro

While it’s already been reported that Cleveland has denied Hunt’s request for a trade. The fact that it’s been heavily reported that he wants out of Cleveland suggests that teams around the NFL in need of RB talent are likely to reach out to the Browns to see what it takes to acquire the 27 year old back. I believe that Hunt still has plenty of juice left, and the fact that he’s split work with Nick Chubb over the past three years, suggests that he doesn’t have the true wear and tear of a 5 year veteran running back. It will be fascinating to see if he’s moved and which teams appear to be in the next as the 2022 season quickly approaches!


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