Alvin Kamara: Buyer Beware

It’s almost August. That may mean many things, but let’s be real, most importantly it means it’s time to start thinking about fantasy football drafts.

In fantasy football, one of the toughest things to do every year is determine which standout rookies will continue to shine, and which were just a one-year wonder. One of those standout rookies from last year is Alvin Kamara.

Kamara was one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL this past season. Anytime he touched the ball, there was a good chance a big play was going to happen, and most of the time, it did.

The Saints’ third-round pick exceeded all expectations as he picked up 728 rushing yards on 120 carries, while adding 826 yards receiving on 81 catches. His 6.1 yards per carry led the NFL, while his receiving yards and receptions were first and second, respectively, among running backs.

What’s better is that, for the most part, Kamara was either a late-round pick or an early season waiver addition, making his RB3 finish all the more sweet.

I happened to be one of those owners who scooped Kamara off waivers early in the year, so this hurts me a bit to say seeing as I’ve developed a bit of an emotional attachment to the guy, but fantasy owners must beware that regression looms.

Of the top-nine fantasy running backs in 2017, Kamara was the only one with fewer than 230 carries…and he was 110 shy of that number.

On the year, Kamara’s highest touch total was 19. In fact, he only averaged 13.75 combined carries and targets on the year, which ranked 32nd among all NFL running backs. Guys like Ameer Abdullah, Chris Carson and Mike Davis averaged more than that (those last two guys played for Seattle by the way).

In fantasy football where volume is king (especially for running backs) Kamara’s is very low, and that’s a sign that his numbers will dip in year two.

Now, all of this wouldn’t matter, or at least not as much, if Kamara was a guy you were looking at to be, say, a solid RB2 or Flex option for this year, but as we all know that’s not the case. Based on what he did last year, Kamara is going to be a guy that’s looked at not just as a team’s RB1, but as the guy who carries fantasy teams to greatness in 2018.

If you want to see an example of the possible regression ahead, look no further than the playoffs.

In the Wild Card round against Carolina, Kamara rushed for just 23 yards on 10 carries, and added 10 yards receiving on one catch, but was able to salvage his day from a fantasy standpoint with a late one-yard touchdown.

Against Minnesota, he rushed for 43 yards on 11 carries and added four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Kamara’s 138 total yards on 26 touches gave him an average of 5.3 yards per touch (a higher average than Le’Veon Bell had in the regular season) on 13 touches per game (on track with his season average), but if you take the touchdowns away from those games, you’re looking at a dud fantasy week in the Wild Card round, and just a passable one in the Divisional game.

Sure, it’s just two games against two very good run defenses, but the bottom line is this: Take Kamara’s 2017 regular-season average of 7.7 yards per touch down to 5.3, which is still a really, really good number, and you’re looking at a touchdown dependent running back who all but certainly cost you a first-round draft pick.

And sure, being touchdown dependent may be okay when you score 13 of them, but just like his yardage totals, that number is almost certain to drop as well.

Here are the touches per touchdown numbers for the top-five fantasy running backs in 2017:

Touches/TD

Todd Gurley

18.05

Le’Veon Bell

36.9

Alvin Kamara

15.5

Kareem Hunt

29.5

Melvin Gordon

28.5


Not only did Kamara’s touchdown efficiency better the incredible season of Todd Gurley, it blew the other three guys out of the water.

I know it seems incredibly obvious to say that if a guy’s averages drop from one season to the next he’ll have a worse season, but the difference between Kamara and the other top backs is that his averages can still be very good for him to lose a lot of value.

Bring his average yards per touch down to 5.3 and he’s touchdown dependent. Bring his touchdown efficiency to a still impressive one every 25 touches and he only has eight total on the year.

Do I think Sean Payton is smart enough to give Kamara a few more touches in 2018? Sure. But for Kamara to all of a sudden get 20-25 touches a game would be a huge jump, not to mention the absolute beating that would put on his body and the injury risk that would come with it.

Like I said, I was a Kamara owner, and I love the guy so this hurts to say, but the numbers don’t lie. There’s a lot of risk associated with him going into 2018. Buyer beware.

 

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys discuss our consensus ranked 1-12 quarterbacks. Also be sure to check out our overall consensus fantasy football rankings here

Max Golden is a blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box Podcast on Twitter and Facebook.

One thought on “Alvin Kamara: Buyer Beware

Add yours

  1. All this is true. Those are the facts for sure!
    He is dynamic, the Saints should give him the ball more in 2018. Its a win now league. Thats what I’m banking on as of now.

    Like

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