New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara has been one of the most dominant assets in fantasy football ever since he entered the league. However, with the running back entering his age-27 season and staring down a potential suspension, could 2022 be the beginning of the end for the five-time Pro Bowl selection?
2022 Fantasy Football Profile: Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara the Player
Alvin Kamara is coming off of what is easily the worst season of his career. Appearing in 13 games, the running back recorded just 898 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 240 carries to go along with 47 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries. While he still finished the season as the RB8, Kamara still set career lows in receptions, receiving yards, yards per carry (3.7), and rushing touchdowns.
Of course, some of the blame has to do with the Saints terrible quarterback situation. Jameis Winston went down for the season in Week 8, forcing Kamara to spend the rest of the year catching passes from Trevor Semien, Taysom Hill, and Ian Book. However, even when Winston was on the field, Kamara wasn’t himself.
Former quarterback Drew Brees loved checking the ball down to his running back, and it’s clear that Winston doesn’t share this trait. During Kamara’s seven games with Winston, the running back was on pace for just 68 receptions and 622 receiving yards, which would have been career lows. Keep in mind that these low reception totals came during the season when the Saints didn’t have a single reliable receiver. With Chris Olave in town and Michael Thomas nearing a return, it’s safe to project Kamara for roughly 55-60 receptions for 600 yards, assuming he plays the whole season (more on that later).
With a perceived downtick in receiving work, Kamara will need to make up for it with more efficiency on the ground. Unfortunately, Kamara is entering his age-27 season, and recent data studies show that running backs start to slow down at this age. Considering Kamara has a relatively smaller build and already showed signs of decline last year, it’s safe to assume that he will not be the exception to the rule.
The Saints have not made any notable additions to their backfield this offseason, so Kamara will probably continue to see the majority of the work. However, considering Kamara’s age and the fact the team lost superstar Terron Armstead in the offseason, it’s hard to envision a world where his efficiency improves in any meaningful way.
The Impending Suspension
As of this posting, Alvin Kamara is currently staring down a suspension stemming from felony battery charges during the weekend of the Pro Bowl. Kamara currently has an August 1st court date, and nobody knows exactly when the running back will receive his suspension. However, according to Pro Football Talk, Kamara and his legal team are currently bracing for a six-game suspension.
This feels like a reasonable suspension considering the alleged crime, so assuming Kamara’s legal team is correct, this means the running back can only play in 11 of a possible 17 games. Basically, Kamara will not be able to help your fantasy team for the vast majority of the season, and his advanced age combined with his decreased role in the passing game dramatically limits his ceiling.
According to FantasyPros, Alvin Kamara is currently going off the board as the RB11, in the same general neighborhood as guys like Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, and Aaron Jones. Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine any world where that makes sense for 2022. Even he played all 17 games, Kamara’s underlying numbers suggest he’s about to have the worst season of his career. With the threat of suspension looming over him, I wouldn’t take him even as an RB2.
Right now, Kamara is looking like the easiest fade in fantasy football. While he was once one of the most valuable assets in fantasy, smart fantasy managers know just how fast the end of the road comes for running backs – just ask Todd Gurley. Unless his average draft position falls dramatically, there is no reason to draft Kamara in any format this year.