Terry Blount: Jaguars’ Fournette, Chiefs’ Hunt should make early fantasy splashes

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is worthy of RB2 consideration in Week 1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Greetings, fantasy folks! Well, you’re REAL people playing fantasy … ah, you get the idea.


Welcome to Week 1 of the 2017 campaign.

As usual, we have a lot of new faces in a lot of new places. I’m going to look at some of the new blood in the NFL this year, starting with a couple rookies who should make an impact on your squad.


Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette has already ascended to the top of the Jaguars’ depth chart, which should be no surprise to anyone. After all, he was the fourth overall pick in the draft this year and there are high hopes for this multi-talented player from LSU. With prototypical size for a running back, Fournette exploded for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns his sophomore season before being held back by injury as a junior.

He has solid speed combined with the strength to break tackles. Chris Ivory will be his backup, but count on Fournette to get the lion’s share of carries. He’s the club’s new toy and nothing short of injury will keep him off the field.

This week Fournette will face a Houston club that performed respectably versus the running back position in 2016, allowing an average of 17.8 fantasy points per game (19th in the league).

It’s tough to forecast a rookie’s performance in his very first game, but I’m not afraid to try. It is easy to envision that Jacksonville’s offense will be built around Fournette. I think it will take a stronger defense than Houston’s to slow this guy. He will get tons of carries and should at least get a few looks in the passing game. He should also be a given as their red-zone back. I like Fournette as a solid RB1 candidate in his first game as a pro.

Another promising rookie back could have a nice performance in his first appearance. Call me a homer, but I like Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt versus a tough New England run defense, a unit that limited opposing backs to a mere 15 fantasy points per game last season.

I like Hunt’s chances versus the Pats and for a few of the same reasons I endorsed Fournette. First, he’ll be the feature back with teammates Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller giving him a breather on occasion. While he might not get a ton of red-zone carries initially, I would guess he’ll get more touches inside the 20-yard line as the campaign progresses.

I believe Hunt is worthy of RB2 consideration in Week 1. He’s a shifty runner with solid acceleration.

OK, I’m going out on a couple of limbs here. I predict Hunt will have a nice game as he leads the Chiefs to a Thursday night upset of the world-champion Patriots in Foxboro. As I stated earlier, call me a homer. I have been called worse.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson should stomp the proverbial mud hole in a Green Bay defense that hemorrhaged 23.3 fantasy points per game to 2016 quarterbacks. Granted, in a Week 14 game in 2016 the Pack smacked Wilson into a pitiful line of 240 passing yards, one touchdown and a whopping five interceptions. I can’t picture a veteran of Wilson’s talent performing that badly this time out. A bad defense combined with a quarterback seeking to atone for a hideous game should equal a vastly improved game for Wilson. He should be a decent QB1.

While I’m hoping former Chiefs and current Ravens receiver Jeremy Maclin will have a bounce-back 2017, I wouldn’t count on it this week versus a Cincinnati defense ranked second versus fantasy wideouts in 2016, allowing a mere 18.4 fantasy points per game to the position.

I like Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs versus a Saints defense that yielded 24.8 fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2016 (eighth highest in the league).



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