Over the past two seasons, there has not been any player more entertaining and exciting to watch than New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. The former Tennessee product took the league by storm as a rookie in 2017 when he finished with over 1,550 total yards and 13 touchdowns. Since then, he’s done nothing but improve as a runner and now gains full control of that New Orleans backfield with the departure of veteran running back Mark Ingram. Kamara’s ceiling heading into 2019 is sky high, and that just may not be high enough.
Alvin Kamara 2019 Fantasy Football Preview
In his second year in the NFL, Kamara showed that his sensational rookie season was far from a fluke. He finished the season with 883 rushing yards to go along with 14 rushing touchdowns and I haven’t even gotten to his receiving ability yet. On top of his incredible rushing numbers, Kamara added another 81 receptions for 709 yards and four more scores. He can do it all, from rushing to receiving and even returning kicks. It’s pretty clear that Alvin Kamara is going to get his touches.
What makes Kamara so impressive is that he did all of this with a guy like Ingram in the same backfield. In 2018, Ingram finished with 134 carries and added another 21 catches. That’s a total of 155 vacated touches in that backfield. I expect Kamara to absorb most of those touches which will only add to his value moving forward. In each of his first two seasons in the league, Kamara never exceeded the 200 carry mark which is not a high number in comparison to other top backs. With Ingram gone, I expect Kamara to easily surpass the 200 carry mark and potentially even reach the 300 range. Take those additional carries and add it to his already existing pass game work and you have the makings of a number one fantasy running back in 2019.
As I mentioned earlier, Kamara’s touches will take a huge spike in 2019 which should put him firmly into elite status amongst NFL running backs. The Saints did not draft any running backs in this year’s draft and free agent addition Latavius Murray is nothing more than a change of pace back. It is now clear that the Saints feel very comfortable with Kamara as their every-down back and for good reason. Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Kamara is averaging 5.1 yards per carry which is hugely significant. On top of that, he is averaging 9.5 yards per catch with a 79 percent target efficiency. That means out of every 10 targets he gets, Kamara catches about eight of them. For any player that would be a terrific number, but for a running back, it’s even more impressive. When Drew Brees looks his way, Kamara has shown he is a very reliable target with the ability to line up at any spot on the field as well.
When it comes to fantasy football, there is no stat more valuable touchdowns. In order to consistently get in the end zone, you need a lot of red zone opportunities. That’s one area where Kamara excels. In 2018, Kamara received 51 rushing attempts inside the 20-yard line for 174 yards and 13 of his 14 touchdowns. As you can see, once he’s near the goal line there is no stopping Kamara. He has the speed to get around any defensive back and the surprising power to plow over linebackers as well. Kamara has proven he is the ultimate red zone weapon and now he will get all the goal line attempts that Ingram (26 attempts inside opponents 10-yard line) stole from him last year.
Average Draft Position
Kamara is currently coming off the board at fourth overall and as the fourth running back selected. Even at such a position, his ADP seems low. In each of the past two seasons, Kamara finished right at that spot, coming in at fourth in fantasy points amongst all running backs. But he accumulated all those numbers while splitting the backfield with another guy. That will not be the case this season and because of that, I expect Kamara to finish inside the top three at his position, potentially even number one overall.
Some may think those are unrealistic expectations, but I strongly disagree. In fantasy football, there is no trait more valuable than volume and when it comes to Alvin Kamara so that won’t be a question. When an offense has a weapon that can run, catch, and return kicks, the possibilities are endless. Look to target Kamara as early as the first overall pick. Anything after that is a steal.