Fantasy Football: Deal or No Deal Alvin Kamara

Shawn Childs updates the New Orleans Saints backfield for fantasy football

Alvin Kamara

Fantasy Football: Deal or No Deal Alvin Kamara

The Saints’ offense has had many changes in the offseason. It started with a $150 million deal for four years in March for Derek Carr. The ball finally dropped on Alvin Kamara’s suspension (three games). That created a potential buying opportunity for him in early August as the fantasy market tries to evaluate his “new value” with Jamaal Williams and Kareen Hunt added to the backfield. Now it’s time for Fantasy Football: Deal or No Deal Alvin Kamara.

First, New Orleans has the foundation of being much better at passing the ball if Michael Thomas can deliver 80% of his previous self and Chris Olave delivers on his expectations. Over the two last seasons, the Saints threw the ball only 504 and 512 times due to Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill, and Andy Dalton starting at quarterback in the post-Drew Brees era. In addition, they played without their star wideout (Thomas) over this span.

In my first run of the projections in June, I had Kamara suspended for 10 games. Once he settled his court case, I lowered his missed time to six games. The NFL decided on three weeks for his off-the-field incident. That meant Kamara was a deal in most early drafts if he stays healthy.

Looking back at the Saints’ offensive profile, the running back position in New Orleans’ offense has been active for several years, especially with Brees behind center. Here’s a look at their running back production over the past three seasons:

The Saints’ defense ranked in the top 10 in points and yards allowed from 2020 to 2022, leading to a more ball-controlled offense and bottom-tier ranking in pass attempts. Despite the regression, their backs still had 113, 88, and 85 catches over this span, averaging 7.46 targets per game. They caught 30, 31, and 25 % of the team’s completions over the previous three seasons. 

In the first run of the 2023 fantasy football projections, I didn’t see enough strength in the Saints’ other backs to support their previous value in catches. My starting point was 18% of the team’s completions (about 60 catches), well below their previous opportunity.

This season, I have New Orleans throwing the ball 592 times with two active wideouts (Chris Olave and Michael Thomas). Despite the increase in pass attempts and a better overall offense, I only have the Saints’ backs catching 77 passes, which looks out of line (too low).

Potentially Adding Kareem Hunt

Here’s a look at the Saints’ backfield if they signed Kareem Hunt:

Over the first three weeks, Williams and Hunt would see almost all of New Orleans’s running back action. Hunt assumes the Kamara slot in the offense. That points to about a third of the carries and the majority of snaps on passing downs. Williams should get the first crack at goal-line chances in the run game.

Once Kamara returns, I expect him to see about 60% of the early down action and most of the chances on passing downs. Ideally, Kamara would average between three to four catches with about 15 rushing attempts. However, I feel I have him unprojected in catches, leaving more upside to his outlook. I view Kamara as a fifth-round back who is getting drafted late in the seventh round. 

Since his suspension, he still ranks 30th at running back in PPR formats. Kamara should be a mid-tier RB2, and I have no problem if someone drafts at the 18th running back. Over his 88 career games, he averaged 4.9 catches for 42.6 yards and 0.25 touchdowns or 10.66 fantasy points in PPR formats. Based on this alone, Kamara would have ranked 22nd in fantasy scoring in 2022. 

As far as Hunt, he should be a natural handcuff to Kamara while having a better career body of work than Jamaal Williams. I have enough confidence in Hunt to use him as a cheat RB2 on a WR-strong team over the first three weeks. 

The bottom line with the Saints’ offense is that they will be much better than in 2022 if their key offensive personnel stay healthy. The running back position should push close to 100 catches. Also, I need to address this shortfall in their projections next week. In 2016, Le’Veon Bell sat out the first three games but still helped fantasy teams win their league and overall championships. 

Finally, in the high-stakes market, the sharp drafters tend to focus on pass-catching backs late. Kamara should be shining brightly in PPR formats, and he almost falls into the free category in early August. 


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About Shawn Childs 970 Articles
Shawn Childs has been a high stakes Fantasy baseball and football player since 2004 where he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). In early years of the high stakes market in Fantasy baseball, he was ahead of the curve in player evaluation, draft value, and free agent bidding setting up four top-five finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has four AL-only Auction titles, one NL-only title, and five Main Event titles plus an overall title in 2012 at RTFBC (netted $10,000). This success led to an induction into the NFBC Baseball Hall of Fame. His success in the high stakes market led to a career in providing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football content. On the football side, he’s competed and won in all different formats – auctions, draft championship, main events, and high-dollar leagues. He won 2nd place overall in the 2014 Most Accurate Salary Cap Expert contest at FantasyPros. As a dual-sport player, it was natural to transition to the daily games where he is a “swing for the fences type of guy.” Childs has appeared in one FanDuel NFL Live Final and one DraftKings NFL Live Final, a season-ending tournament which led to a couple of chances to win over $1,000,000.