Alvin Kamara is fighting history after an incredible rookie campaign during which he finished fourth at the position in total points and sixth in points per game scoring. That was powered by an average of 6.1 yards per carry, more than one yard per carry more than the next closest running back (Dion Lewis) to that mark and the first time a running back has eclipsed six yards per carry since 2012. He also scored a touchdown every 15.46 touches, in comparison to other elite in the leagues like Todd Gurley who scored 18.05 touches, Melvin Gordon who scored every 28.05 touches, and Le’Veon Bell who scored every 33 touches.
Not surprisingly then, his finish among running backs in fantasy points is also an outlier in recent history. For example, the top five overall finishers at the position have averaged 323.4, 339, 301 touches per game over the past three seasons. The lowest total touch mark of an individual player in any of those seasons was 202, with the next lowest being 241. Last year, Kamara totaled 201 touches, yet finished fourth overall in total points. Similarly, the top five backs in per game scoring have averaged 24.08, 23.32, and 21.05 per game, with the lowest single mark being 18.4. Last season, when Kamara finished sixth in per-game scoring, he averaged 12.56 touches per game with the mark only rising to 15.53 when eliminating the three games with his fewest touches.
At this point, we’ve established that Kamara’s season in 2017 isn’t likely to be replicated, but 2018 is a brand new season. On top of that, Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season due to a positive PED test. That makes it easy to imagine how Kamara’s workload would increase. However, the Saints history indicates that Kamara still isn’t likely to reach the thresholds previously discussed that are usually required to be a top-five back. For example, Ingram himself has led the Saints in touches at the position each of the past three seasons, and he has never gotten above 18 touches per game. That said, even if Kamara were to be equally impressive to last season in the first four games of the season, Sean Payton’s history tells us Kamara’s touches won’t spike the rest of the season.
This isn’t to say that Kamara won’t be productive this season, or worthy of a very high draft pick. But, his ADP is currently at RB 5 and top five overall pick. With backs like Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, Dalvin Cook, and LeSean McCoy — all of whom have guaranteed workloads — with ADPs after him, I’d be aiming for a more guaranteed workload with a running back at that spot in the draft. Another thing to consider is that at pick number five, it seems likely that no wide receivers will have been taken meaning a choice of Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins is still on the table. Take that value and run.