By: Anthony Fabiano (Twitter: @fantasyhelpguru)
“That was a pick we’re excited about.” said Sean Payton
Coming out of Tennessee at 5’10” 214lbs, Alvin Kamara was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft, 67th overall by the New Orleans Saints. Kamara was one of the few backs the Saints targeted in the draft because of his “unique traits as a ‘joker’ back.” Head Coach Sean Payton went to the combine just to watch this player, and asked him to run specific routes from the route tree. During the NFL draft, the Saints traded a 2018 2nd-round pick to move back up into the 3rd round specifically to draft Alvin Kamara.
The Saints already have Mark Ingram (and the recently signed Adrian Peterson) so they were not looking for a “pure runner” when drafting a player with Kamara’s abilities. They were looking for a versatile runner and dynamic receiver. As a receiver, he’s more than just a safety valve out of the backfield. He’s intuitive when his quarterback is in trouble, and works well to cut back to the ball and turn nothing into something. He’s a constant wheel-route threat; matching him up against a linebacker is asking for trouble. Get him a screen pass in space, and then watch opposing defenses unwind.
It is no secret the Saints and HC Sean Payton do not like Ingram. Last year he was held out of a TD play which caused him to lose his bonus. Coaches do not just do that to any player; they have been waiting to draft another RB to takeover. Adrian Peterson is 32 years old and is signed to a 2 year contract, approx. $3.5 million per year. It is very possible they brought him in as a goal line back and a mentor to Kamara. Kamara has the ability to be a 3-down feature-back, especially in this offense.
“That has been a key element in our offense over the last 11 years…” – General Manager Mickey Loomis referring to the pass-catching role in New Orleans.
The chart below shows the RBs in the Saints offense, targets and catches for the last 10 years:
Stats to know: Tied with Dalvin Cook for the highest elusive rating in the 2017 RB draft class. Forced 23 missed tackles on just 40 receptions, the highest rate in the draft class.
PFF Scouting Report
Kamara PFF Scouting Report
What he does best:
-Shifty runner, one of the better runners laterally in the draft class.
Slips off tackles with ease.
-Strings together moves in the open field.
-Gets skinny through tight gaps very well.
-Was able to produce behind a bad offensive line that featured below-average run-blocking grades by all nine linemen with at least 30 run-blocking snaps.
-One of the best running backs after the catch coming out of the backfield in the draft class.
-Ranked third with 2.4 yards per route run.
-Forced 90 missed tackles on 284 touches over last two years, a strong rate of one every 3.2 touches.
-Not overly powerful as a runner, won’t move piles often at his current weight.
-Did not have a big workload. Carried the ball 15-plus times in a game just five times in two years. 14 games with fewer than 10 carries. Can also be viewed as a positive.
-Not a lot of experience in pass pro with his utilization as a receiver, stayed in on less than 25 percent of passing plays.
-Allowed seven pressures on 93 snaps in pass protection.
Sean Payton has finally found his next Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles. As you can see from the chart, during Reggie Bush’s rookie season he amassed 121 targets and accounted for 88 catches on those targets. Now I’m not arguing Kamara is more talented than Bush, but I will put them on the same level of ability.
Another interesting observation I gathered from the chart mentioned above, is the amount of targets that go to the RB position in this offense. 90 targets to the position seems like a floor for this offense and then there are a few seasons multiple RBs got over 100 targets. This is unbelievable! It’s known that this offense utilizes RBs in this pass-catching role, but to see a RB get WR type targets (let alone two RBs receiving this) in a few seasons is astonishing.
Kamara will have every opportunity to produce. He has the floor to get 50-60 catches this year and the ceiling to get over 80 catches in his first season in the NFL. The potential target-opportunity alone provides huge upside with him being on one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL. Alvin Kamara should shine bright for fantasy owners as an extremely undervalued prospect in dynasty drafts and a steal in PPR redraft leagues. Take him in the mid-rounds as your RB1 and expect RB2 production with RB1 upside.
*All data referenced is from Pro Football Reference