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Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

Disaster Recovery will be a little different this season. Rather than breaking down any top-10 players who were duds like last year, I'll be going more in-depth on one or two duds of the week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

Before we get started, just remember one thing: there has been one week of football. Players have bad games. Coaches make mistakes. Don't overreact and sell low on somebody just because of one game (Unless, of course, that player is Matt Ryan). The first stud turned dud is somebody all-to-familiar to anyone who read this column last season: Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

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Hunting Season

Kareem Hunt in Week 1 vs Los Angeles Chargers: 16 carries on 49 yards, no receptions on one target.

Previously on Disaster Recovery...

To our returning Kareem Hunt owners: welcome back! I see you enjoyed the roller coaster ride of emotions involved with rostering the second-year back. To new Hunt owners: strap in, fasten your seatbelt, and consider putting on a helmet. It's going to be another wild ride.

Let's start with a refresher of Hunt's rookie season. Sure, he led the league in rushing as a rookie, but all that glitters is not gold. Hunt had an absurd first three games of his career, piling up 538 total yards and six touchdowns. Things got weird after that. Hunt racked up a nine game stretch that got worse and worse. He went nine games without a touchdown, seven games without 100 yards rushing, and five games without 100 total yards. Hunt averaged single digit PPR points during a five-game stretch between Week 8 and Week 13. Luckily for Hunt owners, his strong start may have helped lead you to the playoffs, and he returned to form down the stretch with three stellar games in the fantasy playoffs. His resurrection to end the season was enough to propel Hunt into the first round of most 2018 fantasy drafts.

Hunt shoulders some of the blame for his brutal mid-season run, but so does Andy Reid and his obsession with randomly forgetting about star running backs. Hunt saw single digit carries in three different games last season. The Chiefs went 6-0 in games where Hunt carried the ball over 20 times last season. The Chiefs went 2-4 in games where Hunt saw less than 20 touches. There was no reason for his workload to regress as hard as it did mid-season, and there's a reason why the Chiefs ended the season 4-0 once they decided to turn Hunt loose again.

Dawn of a New Day

The Chiefs slightly new-look offense lit up the Chargers on Sunday. First-year starter Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown on over 25% of his completions. Tyreek Hill decimated the Chargers secondary, catching seven of his eight targets for 159 yards and two touchdowns. That's about all we have as far as meaningful box score contributions.

Studs randomly becoming duds is par for course in the Chiefs offense. Travis Kelce has under 50 yards and no touchdowns in five different games last year, and he still finished second among tight ends in scoring. The Chiefs have a ton of mouths to feed and players often fall by the wayside. It happened to Kelce this week, it will happen to Hill later on, and Hunt owners will find themselves scratching their heads more than once this season. When it comes to Andy Reid, the good usually outweighs the bad. Usually...

Panic Meter: Medium.

We know Hunt's production will be volatile at times. Anyone who did their homework before drafting him should have known this. Let's talk about what we didn't know.

Taking away a meaningless Week 17 game last season where Hunt scored a walk-off touchdown, Hunt was never held without a catch in a game. Not even during the peak of "don't give Kareem Hunt the football" hysteria. Adding onto this, Hunt had at least three targets in all but two meaningful games last season. He saw one target just twice: once during his dominant Week 3 performance, and once later on in the season against the Bills. Hunt caught his lone target in both of these games.

Could the lack of targets simply be an anomaly? Of course it can. The Chiefs led the Charges for 58 minutes on Sunday. This game could easily be a drop in the bucket of an otherwise great Kareem Hunt season. But a lack of pass-catching work would severely hurt Hunt's ceiling this season. There's one stark difference between the 2017 Chiefs offense and the 2018 Chiefs offense: Patrick Mahomes is not Alex Smith.

Alex Smith is a game-manager. That's not an insult. Smith has improved immensely as a passer since being traded to the Chiefs, but he's at his best when he can just manage the game. Smith loves throwing check-down passes, and Hunt was a frequent recipient of these.

Patrick Mahomes is not a game-manager. He's a gun-slinger with a big arm. The hope when drafting Hunt was that the Chiefs would ease in Mahomes and Hunt would find more carries than usual. That clearly is not going to be the case. Mahomes is going to be unleashed in the passing game. He's not going to be throwing a ton of check-downs. Hunt won't find as many easy targets as he did with Smith.

Then there's the bigger concern: will he even find targets? Spencer Ware saw plenty of snaps in passing-down work. While he only touched the ball four times, he only finished with nine less yards than Hunt did. Hunt isn't in danger of losing his job by any means, but Ware could work his way into the rotation as the season goes on. He was supposed to be the starter in 2017 after all.

What to Watch For

Hunt needs to see some targets in Week 2. I'd be more encouraged if he ran for 80 yards and saw six targets in Week 2 than if he ran for 140 yards and didn't catch a single pass. The rushing yards will come. We knew that his rushing numbers could be volatile from week to week, but we didn't know his receiving yards might be non-existent. Hunt's ADP was in the top 10 because of his dual-threat ability. He was never going to be the pass-catcher that David Johnson and Todd Gurley are, but he was supposed to be a pass-catcher none-the-less. Owners need to see some catches in Week 2 to feel some relief here. If he has another goose-egg in the passing game, it might be even more of a roller coaster for Hunt owners than last season.

 

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