2023 Fantasy Football Player Profile: Alvin Kamara faces more competition in New Orleans

PYKAT1 Minneapolis, USA. 28th Oct, 2018. New Orleans Saints' Alvin Kamara (41) during a run in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. Credit: Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Alamy Live News

  • Alvin Kamara is potentially facing a suspension: He is facing a felony battery charge from the 2022 Pro Bowl weekend.
  • The New Orleans Saints gave Kamara significant competition: The Saints added Jamaal Williams in free agency and Kendre Miller in the draft, which will cut into Kamara’s playing time.
  • Can the Saints maximize Kamara’s value: Kamara is one of the best receiving running backs of the last decade, but his receiving production has been on the decline.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The fantasy football outlook series takes an in-depth look at a single player’s fantasy outlook for the 2023 season.

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Thursday, July 6

Alvin Kamara‘s outlook

Kamara’s quality of play has generally been declining.

  • He achieved a 90.4 overall grade in his rookie season in 2017. He followed that up with grades above 82 in two of the following three seasons. He’s finished at 63.2 and 72.7 over the last two seasons.
  • In terms of fantasy production, he was at his best in 2020 which was the best mix of volume and efficiency.
  • His 377.8 fantasy points in 2020 are more than any running back in a season over the last three years.
  • His fantasy production hasn’t been nearly as high recently due to a drop in efficiency and different usage. 
  • He scored 14.1 PPR fantasy points per game, which ranked 13th out of 83 running backs with at least 10 games last season.
  • Kamara was seeing over 330 routes each season from 2018-2020, but that has dropped to under 300 in the last two seasons.
  • His targets per route have also declined from 27.5-30% to 24.0% each of the last two seasons. The accuracy of those passes has also declined without Drew Brees, leading to a lower catch rate.
  • Despite all of this, he was targeted 4.7 times per game for 3.8 receptions and 32.7 yards, which all ranked among the top six for running backs.
  • His decrease in targets corresponded with an increase in rushing attempts, as he’s run over 220 times each of the last two seasons. In general, targets are more valuable than carries, so this style change has ultimately hurt his fantasy value.
  • The Saints used to have a top-10 offensive line, but that has also declined, resulting in fewer yards per carry the last two seasons.
  • Kamara has a July 31 trial date, with the announcement of his suspension likely coming sometime after his trial. We might not know the length of his suspension until after the fantasy draft season.

Competition for touches

Kamara has significantly more competition for carries than in past seasons.

  • Mark Ingram II was the only other running back over the last two seasons to see more than 200 offensive snaps. Ingram was among the oldest running backs in the league during this time.
  • New Orleans also tried out Tony Jones Jr., David Johnson, Dwayne Washington, Latavius Murray, Eno Benjamin, Devine Ozigbo and Jordan Howard, but none of them stuck around for long.
  • New Orleans first added Jamaal Williams to a three-year, $12 million contract from the Detroit Lions.
  • Williams averaged a rushing touchdown per game, which was the best touchdown rate for running backs last season.
  • This helped lead him to 12.0 rushing fantasy points per game, which ranked fourth out of 83 running backs with at least 10 games last season.
  • Kamara, at his best, was putting up 14-16 rushing touchdowns, but Williams could very well take those goal-line touches as well as volume in general from Kamara.
  • Williams has graded better than Kamara as a rusher over the last two seasons, but not as a receiver.
  • Kendre Miller was selected with the 71st overall pick of the 2023 draft.
  • Miller is a well-rounded back who is projected to be a bell-cow player in the future.
  • His one weakness, per our draft guide, is short yardage, which is fine when the Saints have Williams.
  • Miller is only 21 years old, so it’s possible the Saints ease him in during his rookie season.
  • It’s possible Kamara falls to third on the depth chart even without the suspension.
  • The Saints wouldn’t have saved any money against the cap if they cut Kamara even with a June 1 designation, so it’s possible the only reason he’s still on the roster is because it wouldn’t make sense to cut him.
  • Derek Carr recently praised Kamara’s route running, so the most likely scenario may be Kamara keeps his role as the receiving back, but losses carries on early downs.

Impact of teammates

Kamara and the rest of the Saints running backs should benefit from an improvement on the offensive line.

  • Four-fifths of the offensive line has stayed the same for the last three seasons.
  • While offensive lines typically perform better with continuity, at this point, that part of the line likely won’t improve much.
  • The one change will be at left tackle, where New Orleans will be replacing James Hurst, who had the fifth-lowest run block grade for a left tackle at 50.6.
  • He will be replaced by the 19th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft Trevor Penning, who started to rotate in at left tackle over the second half of the season and started his first game in Week 18. He put together an 80.2 run block grade over his 91 run blocks.
  • The Saints made a chance at quarterback with Derek Carr, which ideally will also improve the offense.
  • The Raiders targeted running backs more in terms of volume but less in terms of targets per route, and the differences weren’t significant.
  • Having Carr won’t hurt Kamara’s situation, but it might not help much either.
  • New Orleans has the easiest schedule this season, which should benefit all of the running backs.

Bottom line

Kamara was once a first-round fantasy pick, but this season is one of the riskier running backs that’s draftable.

  • Kamara serves as a good reminder of how quickly the fantasy value of a running back can fall.
  • He was RB1 in 2020, but nine of the top 19 running backs from that season are no longer on rosters.
  • Kamara’s legal situation is driving the conversation in his fall in ADP, but it’s worth remembering the decrease in quality of play by both him and his line the last few seasons, and how much more crowded the backfield is this year than recent seasons.

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