The New Orleans Saints had two of the most productive running backs in the National Football League last year. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for well over 3,000 scrimmage yards and Saints fans will be hoping that a strong game out of the backfield can help Sean Payton’s men in their pursuit of Super Bowl glory. Winning the NFC South will be no cakewalk but their strong running back unit could give New Orleans the edge. Both men were influential in 2017 but it could be Kamara’s time to shine in the Big Easy.
Unfortunately, Ingram will miss the first four games of the 2018 season through suspension and the onus will be on Kamara to step up and take on an increased role in the offense. The former has been with New Orleans since he was drafted into the NFL in 2011 and the Saints will miss his ‘north-south’ impact in those early encounters. But Kamara, named Rookie of the Year in 2017, is more than capable of filling the void – he can be a three-down back.
Kamara’s Skillset Suits Saints
Kamara’s impact as a receiver out of the backfield helped the Saints in 2017 and it will help the Saints again in 2018. To put his influence into perspective, EPSN figures show that Le’Veon Bell (85) was the only running back to record more receptions than Kamara (81) last season and the entire New Orleans organisation has heaped praise on their new star running back. Ingram isn’t quite as dynamic in the passing game and Kamara is the perfect fit in Payton’s slick offense.
When will you be drafting Alvin Kamara? pic.twitter.com/uY8vERMMTL
— 360°FantasyFootball (@360FFB) May 8, 2018
For the time being, Kamara will head the Saints backfield and fantasy players will expect big things from the second year running back. Games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants and Cleveland Browns offer Kamara a real chance to make his mark; those three teams all struggled against running backs in 2017. Taking Kamara with the first overall pick has a major upside; you can always decide to trade him whilst his value is high if you believe Payton will opt for Ingram in the second half of the campaign.
Ingram Return Won’t Diminish Kamara’s Value
Ingram will return for New Orleans’ Week Five clash with the Washington Redskins and we could see Kamara retain the starting role. The former Tennessee Volunteers star averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season – the highest figure in the NFL – and a similar median this year may convince Payton to stick with the hot hand. Kamara is dangerous both as a runner and a receiver and he is the ideal backfield complement to quarterback Drew Brees. A push for Super Bowl success looks very likely indeed this season.
As of April 10th, the Saints are 20/1 with the football betting website Betway to go on and win the NFL’s ultimate prize in 2018/19. Payton will be quietly confident of leading his men to glory and you should be just as confident of fantasy success with Kamara on your roster. Take him in round one; take him with the first overall pick. You will not regret it. The 2017 Rookie of the Year has the talent to rival the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott as the best running backs in professional football.
Kamara Now Deserving Of Top Back Status
Kamara was down as the fifth or sixth-ranked running back just a few months ago but the mood around New Orleans is changing. As long as Kamara’s yards per carry average stays high, he will continue to see more carries in the offense and Ingram doesn’t have the same explosiveness as a receiver. Ingram has yet to sign a new contract with the franchise and he is due to become an undisclosed free agent in 2019 – an exclusive running back role is there for the taking if Kamara steps up this year.
The Saints are likely to challenge for the NFC South again in 2018 and Kamara should see plenty of work out of the backfield. His versatility and unique ability to influence a game in the blink of an eye work in his favour against the consistent but predictable Ingram and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Payton roll with the hot hand. Kamara will have the chance to prove his worth and going all in on the Saints star early on in your NFL fantasy draft could be a Championship-winning decision.
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