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The Chiefs and Fantasy owners got potential bad news Friday night in Seattle when Spencer Ware had to be carted off the field with an apparent knee injury. No one wanted to see this happen in the third preseason game.
Ware had his right knee buckle following a short reception in the first quarter, and he was ruled out immediately. We’ll wait to hear the extent of the injury, but any extended absence for Ware will make rookie Kareem Hunt a potential Fantasy starter this year.
Ware was expected to open the season as the starter for the Chiefs, and Fantasy owners were targeting him as a No. 2 running back in Round 4. His Average Draft Position is No. 46 overall as the No. 18 running back off the board. Even if nothing serious happened to Ware with this injury, that ADP is going to decline.
Last year, Ware finished as the No. 16 Fantasy running back in standard leagues with 214 carries for 921 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, as well as 33 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He got his chance to be the lead running back in Kansas City because Jamaal Charles was dealing with a knee injury, and now Hunt could have that same opportunity.
Hunt was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft from Toledo, and the Chiefs were expected to give him a role behind Ware, with the chance he could push for touches as the season went on. Hunt also got an game against Cincinnati and played well with eight carries for 40 yards and three catches for 23 yards. He finished Friday’s game with nine carries for 39 yards against the Seahawks.
If Ware is out for the season or misses several weeks, Hunt should be considered a top-20 Fantasy running back, and he would be worth drafting in Round 5 in most leagues. He was a star at Toledo with 262 carries for 1,475 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns and 41 catches for 403 yards and one touchdown in 2016.
Anyone who drafted already shouldn’t panic and drop Ware just yet, but hopefully we’ll find out how long he’s out as soon as possible. And if you are drafting this weekend, plan to draft Ware with just a late-round pick at best. I’d speculate on Hunt in Round 5 now.
In deeper leagues, Charcandrick West is worth a late-round flier since he would move into the No. 2 role behind Hunt if Ware’s season is over. And we’ll see if C.J. Spiller also gets playing time as the year goes on.
It wasn’t good to see Ware go down in a preseason game. But his absence could be a big opportunity for Hunt, who could now end up as a quality Fantasy option this year.