One of the best aspects of fantasy football is trying to figure out the next breakout stars the game has to offer. Each year, some players disappoint, while others provide delightful surprises. What I mean by that, is that there are discrepancies between our expectations and their on-field performance.
Last season, the Saints seemed to have their backfield in order and Kamara was buried deep in the pecking order. Following the offseason acquisition of long-time star Adrian Peterson, the team seemed to be deciding between the latter and Mark Ingram as the lead ball carrier. Perhaps they envisioned some type of combination of the two. It became obvious that the team’s offense would shift from the passing powerhouse they had once been, to an offensive attack that would be centered around a power rushing attack.
But the combination of Peterson and Ingram didn’t pan out as the team expected. They share a similar running style; Both like to run between the tackles, welcoming contact and delivering blows to defenders who dare to try and bring them down. This created a confusing scenario, and somewhat of an identity crisis for the offense.
Enter Alvin Kamara, who provided a huge spark for the team, with his insane efficiency and tremendous burst in space. Head Coach Sean Payton realized he had discovered a dynamic weapon that could do things for his offense that nobody else on the team could do. He was able to gain big-time yardage running the ball, while also giving Brees another outlet in the passing game. The more they gave him the ball, the more productive he would become. After a while, Kamara demonstrated that he was the best running back on the team, and one of the best in the entire league.
Kamara finished the season as the RB3 overall, behind only Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Owners of Kamara rode his high-end play all the way to the fantasy playoffs. Some were able to cap off a championship season due to his heroics. To put his incredible season into perspective, consider that Kamara was the first rookie ever to average at least 6.0 yards per carry over the course of a full season with a minimum of 100 carries (he averaged 6.1 YPC). It’s truly amazing what he was able to accomplish on the limited touches he received. Had he been given just a few more touches per game, he likely would have finished as the top fantasy RB on the year.
At his 2017 scoring rate, Alvin Kamara was *really* close to being the No. 1 RB last year.
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 17, 2018
But the X-factor was his contributions in the passing game, where he also averaged 10.2 yards per reception. He also had a total of 81 receptions on the season, which is an enormous asset in PPR leagues. Kamara combined to gain 1554 total yards on the year, with 13 total touchdowns. These numbers would have been great for any player, let alone a rookie who was generally undrafted in most leagues. Sharp fantasy football players who scooped him off the waiver wire benefited greatly from the move.
It is a testament to the Saints’ team success that Mark Ingram also finished as the sixth highest running back scorer on the season. And now, Ingram has been slapped with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED rules. So, as you look to draft this summer, consider that Kamara will be leaned on heavily. He will be fed the football early and often, and he won’t have as much competition for the valuable red zone and goal line touches that everyone wants for their running backs. With players like Bell and Gurley getting such heavy workloads, it might be difficult for Kamara to reach the top of fantasy running backs, but never say never. The guy is truly a special talent that has already shocked us all. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who made the same mistake of overlooking him again.