Alvin Kamara Fantasy Football Outlook, Projections: Where Does Saints’ Star RB Rank?
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alvin Kamara.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday that it’s possible Alvin Kamara will not face a suspension during the 2022-23 regular season, which would be big news for draft boards everywhere.
The do-it-all Saints back is potentially facing a six-game suspension due to a battery arrest back in January. It has long been assumed that suspension would be served during this season.
Right now, Kamara is going as the RB12 in half-PPR leagues, according to FantasyPros’ ADP data. Where would that stand, though, if he played the entire season?
We asked our staff of fantasy football experts where they would rank Kamara if he was available for all of this season. Check out their breakdowns below.
Alvin Kamara Fantasy Football Preview
If Kamara wasn’t facing a potential suspension in 2022, he would rank as my RB7.
While it seems less likely he will face a suspension in 2022, there is still some uncertainty with this situation. There is still a chance he does end up getting suspended later in the season or having new evidence come up in his case forcing the NFL to take action. Either way, you are still taking on some risk when drafting him, something I prefer not to do in the first several rounds.
I would expect his ADP to rise inside the top 8-10 based on this news, which is in line with my updated rankings, but I’m still shying away from him in the early rounds.
This also lowers the chances of Saints back-up RB Mark Ingram offering RB3/Flex value while Kamara is serving a potential suspension. As a result, I have lowered his RB Upside Ratings grade from a B- to a C-. Ingram is a bit less tempting at ADP now.
Even before Schefter’s most recent report, we’ve known that there was a chance Kamara could evade his expected six-game suspension in 2022 while legal proceedings play out.
The question: How do we factor this uncertainty into his projections in order to accurately depict his value?
The way I do this is to take his expected suspension length and multiply it by the likelihood of him being suspended.
Since we have no way to gauge what probability Schefter is implying when he says “real chance” (and he probably doesn’t, either), the fairest way is to simply assign a 50% likelihood of him getting suspended until we gain information that gives us a more precise lean.
So, six missed games x 50% likelihood = three missed games.
At three missed games, I have Kamara ranked RB19. His ADP is RB12, so given what we know, I believe Kamara carries too much risk at his current ADP.
Of course, to better get an idea of his range of outcomes, I can also project him with both zero and the full six games missed.
Zero games missed: RB7
Six games missed: RB36
Given my projections, it’s tough for me to justify taking him at RB12. He’s only being taken five spots below his non-suspension ceiling, but 24 spots ahead of his full suspension floor.
Kamara’s ADP would become fair if you believe he has a 25% chance or less of serving his suspension this season.
The uncertainty around Kamara’s potential suspension has major implications for New Orleans’ run game and fantasy football. He has been one of the league’s top running backs since entering the league in 2017, having posted four finishes as the RB4 or higher in half-PPR scoring, never having finished below RB12.
Kamara has loads of fantasy appeal as a strong rusher and excellent pass-catcher, especially with most leagues utilizing some variation of point-per-reception scoring. He has a career-average of 18.4 points per game in half-PPR, meaning his 17-game pace based on the previous five seasons would put him at 312.8 fantasy points (for reference, only Jonathan Taylor scored more than 312.8 points last season).
Even if Kamara was to face the full six-game suspension (which seems less likely at this time), he would have been RB13 last season. Note, however, that the rough math above does not account for any potential games missed due to injury, and Kamara did miss a career-high four games last season.
The Saints’ quarterback situation does introduce some question marks for the team’s pass-catchers. Kamara did perform very well with quarterback Jameis Winston under center for the first six games of the 2021 season and averaged 18.1 fantasy points per game in that stretch.
One downside to drafting Kamara this season is the lack of a clear insurance policy. In some instances, a looming suspension isn’t the end of the world for fantasy managers, who can grab their star running back’s backup to deploy in case of missed games.
Next on the Saints’ depth chart is Mark Ingram (RB53), followed by Tony Jones Jr. (RB83) and Dwayne Washington (no ADP listed) — none of which offer the same plug-and-play upside as, say, Vikings running back Alexander Mattison vis-à-vis Dalvin Cook.
Of that trio, Ingram would be the name to roster. The veteran is just three seasons removed from a 1,000-rushing yard season and RB8 finish with the Ravens, though his ceiling is fairly limited at 32 years old.
The question ultimately comes down to personal risk management. Kamara’s ADP according to FantasyPros is RB12, meaning you will probably have to shell out a late-second round pick to grab him (and remember to grab Ingram much later on). It’s a high-risk, high-reward scenario that I’m willing to gamble on at the end of the second-round, especially with the odds of suspension decreasing with each passing day.