By George Haraktsis
With recent news coming out that Mark Ingram violated the NFL’s PED policy there is a question that begs to be answered, how will this four-game suspension affect Alvin Kamara’s fantasy value?
Four games are nothing to scoff at, especially in fantasy football. It’s essentially a third of the season considering most fantasy leagues don’t play week 17. And with the Saints’ BYE coming in week six it isn’t crazy to think Ingram won’t see a significant workload until the Saints suit up again in week 7. After Kamara’s stellar rookie season where he finished as the number three back in PPR formats, which saw him account for 728 yards on the ground and 826 yards through the air for a combined 13 TDs, Ingram already figured to relinquish some duties to the young back partially. The team was already in the process of doing so.
From weeks 1–10 Ingram out-snapped Kamara 321–234, but starting from week 10, and excluding week 14 where Kamara left early, Kamara had out-snapped, out-targeted, and nearly out-touched Ingram in this seven-week span. So the suspension only expedites the process.
Some want to argue that Kamara’s workload should not go up and his efficiency is what made him great, well duh. When a player averages 7.7 yardsper touch, the highest single-season total among players with at least 200 touches in league history, it’s hard to argue against it. The fact of the matter is with no one else in the backfield to challenge him for carries; he’s going to get more volume with Ingram out. He should see his goal-line carries increase, his attempts, and targets shoot-up, and snap totals skyrocket. Even if his efficiency dips, he will more than make up for that with his increased chances. Kamara was an RB1 even before the suspension; this just cements his status even more.
During the suspension?
Was Kamara an “elite” fantasy back in the same breath as the Bells and Gurleys before the suspension? Maybe not. But with Ingram gone, it’s a whole different story. Kamara is facing four teams in this time-span-the Bucs, Browns, Falcons, Giants-all of whom were not significantly good at defending the run last year. In these four games, with an increase in touches, Kamara could quickly lead the league in fantasy scoring. In games with 15+ touches, he averaged over 150 yards from scrimmage and averaged over 28 fantasy points per game. So it’s not out of the question.
How about after the suspension?
Kamara could finally prove to the league that he is a 16 game, three-down back. One who has the opportunity to showcase his elite skills finally. If Kamara is on a torrid pace and is lighting the league on fire, why stop him? It’s unlikely that Sean Payton and company decide to decrease their feature backs volume by a significant amount if the team is winning and he’s torching defenses. In this scenario, the split could turn from a 50–50 to more of a 60–40 in favor of Kamara. Why change things up if it’s working?
As for Ingram’s value? Well, this isn’t great for Ingram and his owners. He goes from being drafted as a high-end RB2 to dropping to an RB3. You’d be better off taking your shot on later round rookies like Sony Michel or Ronald Jones than Ingram. He could see a decrease in volume when he comes back due to Kamara’s production, and possibly Sean Payton’s willingness to prove a point.
What does this all mean?
It means that if you have Alvin Kamara as a keeper, or if he’s on your dynasty team you are about to reap the benefits of Mark Ingram’s misfortune. Kamara is the modern league’s prototypical back. He can slash you through the air, on the ground, or in the return game-which translates wonderfully to fantasy football. I’d feel comfortable taking him after the big four of Bell Gurley, Elliot, and Johnson. Heck if you wanted to draft him before Elliot and Johnson, I wouldn’t fault you for that either. He is my number five in all PPR formats and is going to lead plenty of owner’s fantasy football teams to a championship once again. Hopefully, it’s yours.