Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
The 2017 NFL regular season is officially underway Thursday, which means it’s finally time to begin lamenting or celebrating the contributions from the players on your fantasy football team.
Quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Kareem Hunt were among the Kansas City Chiefs’ top producers in their 42-27 Week 1 victory over the New England Patriots. Below is a brief breakdown for what their respective performances could mean going forward.
Hill finished with seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for five yards. Seventy-five of his receiving yards came on his touchdown catch in the third quarter. The NFL shared a replay of the score:
75-yard @Chiefs TOUCHDOWN! 👋 #KCvsNE https://t.co/3Lw5UyIzMh
There’s no question Hill’s versatility makes him a must-start in every format. His potential is up to the creativity of Andy Reid and the rest of Kansas City’s coaching staff.
As a more traditional wide receiver, Hill has plenty of value. But fantasy owners will undoubtedly expect him to get a fair number of touches out of the backfield as well.
The fact Hill is the Chiefs’ leading receiver bodes well for what he can deliver in 2017.
Hunt was the biggest star from Thursday. He fumbled on his first carry but rebounded to run for 148 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. According to NFL Research, no rookie amassed more yards from scrimmage in his first game:
NFL Research @NFLResearch
Kareem Hunt now has the most scrimmage yards (239) by any player in his NFL debut since the 1970 merger
ESPN.com’s Tristan H. Cockcroft also put his fantasy scoring in perspective:
Tristan H. Cockcroft @SultanofStat
Kareem Hunt is only the fifth running back since 1950 to manage at least 30 fantasy points in his NFL debut.
Tristan H. Cockcroft @SultanofStat
Billy Sims, 41.7, 1980 Week 1
Earl Cooper, 36.8, 1980 Week 1
Marshall Faulk, 36.4, 1994 Week 1
Randy McMillan, 30.9, 1981 Week 1 https://t.co/hmoC1SkV2S
With Spencer Ware likely out for the season, Hunt is unquestionably the No. 1 option in the Chiefs backfield. And with Reid’s more conservative style, he should get a healthy number of carries every week.
Since he’s only a rookie, Hunt is ideally used as an RB2 right now, which will offer some protection should he fall back to earth after Thursday’s record-setting showing. Regardless of his roster distinction, thought, Hunt is clearly worthy of a starting spot in your lineup.
Smith emerged as the winner in the quarterback battle with Tom Brady.
The Chiefs’ signal-caller finished 28-of-35 passing for 368 yards and four touchdowns. While it is unrealistic for fantasy players to expect the Utah product to replicate those numbers on a weekly basis, especially if Hunt develops into a star at the running back spot and sees an increase in carries, he did answer questions about his ability to throw the deep ball with long strikes to Hill and Hunt.
It is far too early in the season to elevate Smith above the superstar quarterback names of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and others, but he does provide consistency for fantasy players after four straight seasons of at least 3,200 passing yards.
There is no reason to take him out of your lineup moving forward at this point following an incredible performance against the defending champions, especially after he demonstrated touch on multiple long touchdown connections.