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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Kareem Hunt No. 52

Kareem Hunt comes in at 52 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) fights off a tackle attempt from Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (54) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Hunt played in all 16 games last season, taking over for an injured Nick Chubb as the starter in four. He was solid, putting up 1,145 total yards and 11 touchdowns on his way to finishing 10th in PPR points for running backs. He should once again be set up for a strong workload next to Chubb this season.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 52, Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns, RB

Hunt didn’t put up huge numbers in 2020, but he accumulated plenty of fantasy points on his way to RB10 despite playing second fiddle to Chubb. His usage in the receiving game wasn’t as high as expected, but his efficiency around the goal line boosted his numbers with six rushing and five receiving touchdowns. That kind of versatility will keep him as a fantasy asset in 2021.

Competition for touches

Hunt’s biggest competition for touches is Chubb, as he is the lead back and also sees receiving work. In 12 games last season, Chubb ran the ball 190 times and caught 12-of 18 targets. In 16 games, Hunt ran the ball 198 times and caught 38-of-51 targets. Chubb would have seen more rushing attempts if he had been healthy all 16 games, but they still would have been close in total touches.

Team offensive expectations

Kevin Stefanski, Baker Mayfield and the Browns had a great 2020, as they finished in the Top 10 of many offensive statistics, including ninth in Football Outsiders offensive DVOA. With a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and Chubb, along with a full season and offseason with Stefanski’s offense, we can only predict them to improve.

What’s his upside?

Hunt would probably need Chubb to miss time again to sneak into the Top 10 this season. His touchdown luck was pretty good, but Stefanski’s offense was extremely efficient. If he can find the end zone at a similar pace again this season, he’ll reach his upside with work in the rushing and receiving game.

What’s his downside?

Hunt’s usage can be slim at times and projecting his workload can be tough. Overall he should be able to get to 200 touches, but if Chubb is healthy, that will be around the top of his projections. He’ll need those touchdowns to combat his less than desirable workload.

Projection

160 attempts, 800 yards, 5 touchdowns — 40 receptions, 350 yards, 4 touchdown