Alvin Kamara had another stellar season and was involved in all parts of the offense like many had hoped and expected. He shared the field after his former RB running mate Mark Ingram came back from suspension, but this didn’t hinder him from having a top 5 fantasy season at the position. Ingram may have gone to Baltimore, but the Saints have signed former Vikings RB Latavius Murray to play a similar role so Kamara will still be sharing the backfield with another talented runner. Proving that this cannot contain him, Kamara is set up for another big season with the Super Bowl or bust Saints. Just how big of a season? Lets take a look back at his 2018 season and see what we can project for 2019 with his new running mate. (All stats are based on half point PPR scoring.)
Kamara had a great season in 2018 and that was with a lower carry count than most of the top 10 Running Backs. He finished with a stat line of 194 carries for 883 yards and 14 Touchdowns while adding 81 receptions on 105 targets for 709 receiving yards and 4 receiving Touchdowns. Totaling 1592 yards was more than enough to compensate for not hitting 1000 in either category and he missed the last game of the season so his totals would have been even higher. He finished as the RB4 overall with 313.7 total fantasy points averaging 20.9 points per game making him the 3rd most consistent scorer amongst the position. His consistency shows in his per game averages which were 12.9 attempts per game for 58.8 yards at 4.6 yards per carry for .93 Touchdowns adding on 5.4 receptions on 7 targets for 47.2 receiving yards. Consistency may seem like it was the name of the game for Kamara owners, but they got much more than that with some massive performances and nearly 0 bust games over the season. His season total finishes amongst the position were 16th in rush attempts, 18th in rush yards, 2nd in rushing Touchdowns, 4th in receptions and targets, 5th in receiving yards, and tied for 6th in receiving Touchdowns. Don’t let the rush attempt and rush yard finishes change your mind on his upcoming season. While he finished outside the top 12 in both categories, he made up for it with his massive receiving totals. In terms of his per game finishes amongst the position, Kamara finished 19th in rush attempts per game, 20th in rush yards, 37th in yards per carry, 4th in targets, and 2nd in receiving yards. Again, his rush finishes were lower than most of the guys in the top 10, but his elite receiving numbers more than made up for him rotating with Ingram.
Kamara being as consistent as he was while giving owners some huge performances is what makes him such a highly rated back going into next season. Doing this in a time share is rare in for fantasy football, but Ingram was a perfect compliment to Kamara. He did have some lower scoring outings when Ingram took on a heavier workload, but he only finished under 10 points once all season. He had only 4 weeks under 14 points so while he may have been disappointing in these games he didn’t really hurt his fantasy owners during these weeks. He had 3 massive outings where he scored over 30 points and averaged 21.4 points in his other 7 games of over 14 and under 30 points. He was helped by running behind the number 8 ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. This coupled with being the second most targeted player on the team behind Michael Thomas and running 2 back sets with Mark Ingram helped him get into space and make some massive plays and the ground and as a receiver. The only negative to point out with Kamara was his rushing numbers where he finished outside of the top 12. While it would be nicer if he received more than 12.9 rush attempts per game he more than made up for that through the air and his explosiveness helped him capitalize on his lower usage. He is a player that will make the most of the opportunities he gets and he succeeds a majority of the time as evident by his numbers.
While it may seem obvious to point out that Kamara should be top 5 in 2019, looking at his numbers and how the team has changed could convince you to see him as a candidate to finish as the number 1 RB overall. To start, Ingram moving on and being replaced by Murray has some significance. Murray is a talented runner and he is more of a downhill threat like Ingram was last season. However, he is not as talented as Ingram and he may receive less rush attempts than Ingram as he adapts to his new offense. The offensive line is changing a bit as well as Max Unger, one of the better centers in the league, surprisingly retired in the offseason. The Saints have attempted to fill that void by signing Nick Easton who is a solid Center not the caliber of Unger but he will fill in with 2nd round draft pick Erik McCoy who will be fighting for the starting job or play as an interior rotating lineman. This may not fully replace the former Pro Bowler, but the at least have invested capital into replacing Unger and it should not effect the blocking for Kamara as much as if they ignored it entirely and went with a backup to fill that gap. Kamara will have the opportunity to see over 200 carries and get near 100 receptions and if he finds the endzone as often as he did in 2018 then you can make a real case for Kamara finishing as the number 1 RB overall. He should be the 2nd most target player behind Thomas even with the addition of TE Jared Cook. At the very least he will be a near lock for a top 5 finish and he will be one of the most consistent RB’s in 2019 and is more than deserving of a top 5 pick.
I think Kamara has a great chance to finish top 3 in 2019 and could very well be the top RB on the season. I think the loss of Ingram and addition of Murray is nothing but good for him. Murray will play the Ingram role but at a lower carry rate in my opinion and I do not see Murray as much of a receiver as Ingram was. Kamara should still be the second most target player on the team and while Jared Cook will mix in for redzone targets, Kamara doesn’t need to be inside the 20’s to be a scoring threat and his nearly 20 total Touchdowns has a good chance at repeating. All in all, I see Kamara as a top 3 back with the upside to finish number 1 overall at the position and I think he needs to be in your consideration amongst the likes of Saquan Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffery.
What do you think? Is Kamara capable of a number 1 overall finish or will he just finish as a top 5 back? Let us know and be sure to share and follow us on our social media pages to stay up to date on when we upload! We are Finish First Fantasy on Facebook, @Finish1Fantasy on Twitter, and we are @finishfirstfantasy on Instagram. Click on the link below to sign up for our newsletter for the latest publications on our site, special discounts, and membership rewards!
By Ryan Larrison, Contributor, Fantasy Football for the People
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