The Return of Mark Ingram
On Drew Brees’ historic night, Mark Ingram was undoubtfully the guest of honor. It was reasonable to expect Alvin Kamara to be another reason to celebrate after Monday’s blowout – if you read only the ’43-19’ part of the score, it was safe to assume the second-year running back had his share of the points. Unfortunately for Kamara owners, that was not the case.
After being the number one running back in three out of four weeks of Fantasy Football, Kamara had nine touches for 39 total yards. Meanwhile, Mark Ingram had a great season debut, carrying the ball 16 times for 53 yards and two scores – even Taysom Hill carried the ball in the red zone for a touchdown.
Now that we’ve seen Kamara’s participation drastically fall with the return of Mark Ingram, a new question arises… how worried should we be?
In 2017, both Ingram and Kamara had enough volume to sustain their Fantasy performance – they finished the season as RB1s. It should be also noted that Drew Brees didn’t have to put up his usual numbers; it was the first season since 2009 that Brees didn’t throw the football at least 627 times. The future Hall of Famer passed for ‘only’ 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns.
In 2017, Kamara had 826 receiving yards, 100 targets and 81 receptions; his rushing yards were 728 in 120 attempts. This season, without Mark Ingram for the first four games, it was expected for him to take on a bigger role in the running game, but he’s had 52 more receiving yards than rushing yards in 24 fewer touches.
When he had Mark Ingram in his rookie season, Kamara averaged 12.56 touches and around 97 yards per game. It’s not the same volume he’s had in the first four games of the season (22.8 touches per game), but it isn’t a reason to worry about him, especially with the bigger emphasis on the passing game.
This year, Drew Brees has already 11 touchdowns, 190 pass attempts and 1,658 yards, which puts him in pace for 608 attempts, 35 TDs and roughly 5,300 yards – more akin to previous versions of himself. The 2018 Saints offense are relying more on their passing game than 2017, and that’s great news for Alvin Kamara.
His usage on the Monday Night Game made me worry about him at first, but after considering his steady role and volume, there’s no reason for concern. Mark Ingram had his legs as fresh as they could’ve, while Kamara had to sustain a much larger role during his suspension. The New Orleans Saints didn’t need to put more stress on one of their star players – they never trailed. Even if they needed him on the field, his absence inside the opponent’s 10 is not concerning. In 2017, Mark Ingram had 19 attempts and 8 touchdowns in this part of the field; Kamara had 13 rushes and 5 scores; it’s pretty much what we’ve seen in 2017.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Alvin Kamara is one of the biggest playmakers in the NFL. He’s fast, elusive and can easily find spaces – and both Sean Payton and Drew Brees know this. His role in this offense is safe. I honestly think his Fantasy value is in a season-low, with his Monday Night performance, Ingram coming back and his bye week. I’d say instead of worrying about Kamara, I’d throw a low ball offer for him.