an article by Fantasy Football Flow
The fantasy season is just around the corner and it’s the time to prepare to win your league. Today we take a look at someone a lot of people expect to take a huge leap in 2019: Alvin Kamara…
The Case for Kamara
To begin this article, we’re going to look at some historical data about the Saints and their RBs in fantasy. In 2018, Kamara finished as the 4th RB; in 2017, Kamara finished as the 3rd, and Ingram finished as the 6th RB; in 2016, Ingram finished as the 8th RB; and finally in 2015, Ingram finished as the 12th RB. All of these rankings were taken from normal PPR formats. The main reason we are consistently seeing a Saints RB in the top 12 over the past several seasons, is because they utilize the RBs heavily in the passing game. For example, Kamara ranked 4th in targets last season, and Ingram added 27 targets in 12 games as well. In 2017, these numbers were more prevalent as Kamara ranked 3rd and Ingram ranked 10th in the league in total targets to RBs. The target numbers are incredibly important because they have added value built into them in all formats except standard (i.e. Points Per Reception). Finally, another extremely important factor when it comes to the Saints and their RBs in general, is the Saints offensive line, one of the best in the league. They excel at both the running game and the passing game. This is crucial because offensive lines are significantly more important than RBs when it comes to yards created on runs, excluding explosive runs (10+ yards). Therefore, on average Kamara should be able to get at least 3 yards per rushing attempt, and then whatever else he can create is a bonus. Something else to note when it comes to Kamara is that he plays in a dome which has a controlled environment, so he will have less weekly variance late in the season due to extreme weather. Kamara is not an every down type of player, however, and therefore his ceiling is somewhat lacking. If you look at his stats, his snap share is 66.3% (12th among RBs), but this also means he is at a lower injury risk because he’s not taking hits constantly like, for example, Ezekiel Elliott. Although, Kamara’s snap share isn’t top 5, he still is given a ton of opportunities to produce points, as he ranked 16th in carries and 4th in receptions. This combined ranks as the 4th highest weighted opportunity share in the league. Weighted opportunities place greater value on targets because they create more yardage on average, and have a base point value in most leagues. Kamara also receives valuable work in the red zone. He had 72 touches inside the RZ last season, which ranked 2nd in the league. This immense amount of red zone work is the reason Kamara had 14 rushing TDs in 2018 which was the 2nd highest of any player.
The Case against Kamara
Kamara is on a team that has Drew Brees at the helm, who is an aging QB and likely is set to regress after a near-MVP season. This means that Kamara is set to face more defenders in the box, more stacked fronts and probably less goal line and red zone touches, because of an expected decline in the offense. Although this doesn’t affect Kamara’s value a ton because he is such a formidable pass catcher, it can be the difference between him being the RB 1 and the RB 8. One other small note is that the Saints will have a new center this season, and whether that’s veteran Nick Easton or rookie Erik McCoy, there will be some changes. And due to how good the line was last season, any change will probably result in a decline in offensive line efficiency. However, with the only downsides of Kamara being an expectation that the offense declines and a new center, it shows that Kamara is potentially the safest of any of the top 4 RBs.
Currently, I have Kamara as my 1.03 behind Barkley and CMC, and ahead of Zeke. I can easily see Kamara moving up to 1.01 or 1.02 because he seems incredibly safe and has shown top 3 upside in both of his seasons. Unless an injury occurs to Kamara, I wouldn’t see myself taking him out of my top 3.