Alvin Kamara was a nice late-round sleeper coming into the 2017 league year. It wasn’t until after week three when Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals that we were able to see what Kamara was truly capable of when he rushed five times for 25 yards and had 10 receptions for another 71 yards and a receiving TD. After New Orleans week six bye, Kamara took off and was a fantasy star finishing with 728 rushing yards (on 120 attempts) and eight rushing touchdowns to go along with 82 receptions for another 826 yards and five receiving touchdowns. Looking at those stats it’s amazing to see him finish with 1,554 total yards and 13 total touchdowns and finish the year as a sure-fire RB1.
Coming into the 2018 fantasy season, preseason rankings have Kamara as high as No. 1 (Adam Rank of NFL.com) while most others are around No. 6-8. This is quite a gamble as Kamara only had 120 rushing attempts! Yes, you can say he also had 100 targets in the passing game. Yes, he had 13 total touchdowns. But is all this really repeatable?
Lets rewind 10 years and I’ll give you stats of a running back who went in the first round of drafts. He finished the season with a stat line of 268/1,282/9 along with 50/377/1. Once again, that’s 1,659 total yards along with 10 total touchdowns. Would you take him in the first round in 2009? Don’t lie, you know you would have taken him and thought you are building a team around this awesome running back. Fast forward to the end of the season and he finished with 854 total yards and eight touchdowns. Not a total bust, but not what you expected for a first-round return. Do you know who it is?
Answer: Steve Slaton.
Sure, Slaton isn’t the best example to use, but he is one of the best from a first-round draft perspective in comparative stats and NFL Draft capital (3rd round, pick 26 to Kamara’s 3rd round, pick 3).
Fast forward to the present when the news came down on Monday that Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first four games of the season. Twitter was going crazy as most were saying they would take Kamara top five knowing Ingram is gone the first four games. No-doubt first-round RB1 now! WRONG! When was the last time Sean Payton had a running back get 250+ carries? Yeah, I can’t remember either. But if I told you it happened in 2004 and it was Deuce McAllister with 269 would you be surprised because I know I am!
New Orleans has always ran a two running back system. Don’t be surprised if the Saints go out and sign a veteran running soon to fill in the Ingram gap. It’s just how that system works.
When I am in the first round I want that bell-cow, three-down running back. I will be taking Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, Zeke Elliott, David Johnson, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Saquon Barkley, Devonta Freeman, Jordan Howard, Joe Mixon, LeSean McCoy and Christian McCaffrey before I would even think of taking Kamara. I would even rather have his pass-catching teammate Michael Thomas along with Ingram a few rounds later.
Be smart, don’t hesitate and pass on Kamara in the first round. It might be hard to do, but just think of all the other “true” bell-cow running backs that you are passing on to take a high-risk/ high-potential RB. If he were to fall to the mid/late second round in a PPR league, pull the trigger because you have a great RB2, and this is exactly how Kamara should be seen in drafts.
Check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys talk rookie fantasy football rankings for WR’s & TE’s!