The expectations for New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara in fantasy football this year were high. In 2018, he finished as the fourth-highest scoring running back in only 15 games (half PPR). In his rookie year in 2017, he finished in third. So with Mark Ingram no longer eating into his touches, 2019 was going to be an even bigger fantasy year for Kamara. This hasn’t been the case. For many owners, Alvin Kamara has drastically underachieved this fantasy season. However, now is not the time to jump off of the Kamara bandwagon.
Fantasy Drama for Alvin Kamara
As we sit right now, Alvin Kamara is 15th amongst running backs in half PPR scoring. Considering he was an easy top three choice in drafts this year, this is troubling news. Furthermore, for the people who drafted Kamara ahead of players like Christian McCaffrey, it’s even worse. With the fantasy football playoffs in full swing, every start and sit matters. Due to Kamara’s relatively poor performance this year, some owners are debating whether or not to start him. Although he hasn’t delivered on the investment most owners put into him, Kamara is still a must-start in fantasy lineups.
Touchdown regression is the area which has cost Kamara owners the most points. In his rookie year, Kamara had 13 combined touchdowns. Last year, he had 18. This year, he has two. And they both came in the same week in week three. Not good.
As a whole, the Saints only have eight rushing touchdowns this year. Five of those come from Latavius Murray. And three of those five for Murray came in games when Kamara was out due to injury. With the games Kamara has missed this year, and with the games Drew Brees has missed, Kamara’s touchdown numbers have drastically fallen. But they have to jump back at some point.
Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Kamara ran the ball down to the one-inch line on third and goal. This was after he got the ball on first and goal from the four. Brees snuck it in for the score on the next play. The point here is not the bad fantasy luck or game script for Kamara, it’s the touches inside the five-yard line.
On the year, Alvin Kamara has 32.8 percent of the Saints’ red zone rushing attempts and 44.4 percent of the rushing attempts from inside the 10. Receiving, he has 15.4 percent of the Saints’ red zone passing attempts and 22.6 percent of attempts inside the 10. Added up, Kamara has 48.2 percent of total Saints red zone attempts and 67 percent of their attempts from inside the 10. Also, consider that Kamara missed about two and a half games due to injury. His target share is still there. With how good the Saints offense is, and how good Kamara is, he’s bound to get back into the end zone. The talent and touches are there. And in fantasy football, you need talent and touches.
The Emotion and Surface Level of It All
Do not let emotion or surface-level stats cloud your judgment of Alvin Kamara and his fantasy season. Yes, he hasn’t delivered on expectations. And yes, you may hate yourself and the fantasy gods for taking him ahead of CMC or any other first-round lock that would have delivered a better return on investment. Or hate yourself for what you traded for him when you bought low. But Kamara is still a week in and week out fantasy football starter without question.
His touchdown regression has been huge. And despite that, he’s still averaging 13.8 points per game in half PPR. That’s good enough for 12th overall on the season and only four points per game behind Aaron Jones who has had a huge year and is fourth overall. Kamara is still an RB1.
A couple of touchdowns here or there and his numbers are very different. And those aren’t just random scenarios, because the red zone numbers mentioned above show he’s getting the work. Furthermore, if he hadn’t missed those two and a half games he would have even more volume and attempts. He’s getting the opportunities. He just hasn’t converted as he has in the past.
The overall touches per game are there for him as well. Compared to last year, Alvin Kamara is averaging .8 more receptions per game and only .4 less rushing attempts per game. So it’s not a touches issue. He’s still getting roughly the same amount of touches per game as he was last year. He’s just not getting touchdowns. But regression works in both ways. And with the number of touches Kamara gets and the quality of touches he gets, it’ll pay off.
What It All Means for Alvin Kamara in Fantasy Football
In a game where you need to minimize risk in order to win, you could do a lot worse than Alvin Kamara. That’s not to say the disappointment felt around his fantasy production this year isn’t valid. It’s just to say that benching him would be ridiculous. Unless you’re in a guillotine league or a league with a small number of teams, the odds of having someone better than him on your bench is small. The talent is still there. The supply and opportunities are there. And he plays for one of the best offenses and football teams in the NFL. If you have him, start him.