By Joe Pollock
If you're running to your computer to see who the Alvin Kamara owner in your dynasty league is, STOP! Take a breath, and let me talk you down from this. It's all going to be okay. @HumanStatSheet‘s got you. If you're about to get a haul for Kamara in Dynasty–I'm talking Zeke + Pick–do it. Trade Alvin Kamara now.
Regardless of how good Alvin Kamara is, there's absolutely no reason to expect Sean Payton to abandon the system that brought him to within one play of the NFC Championship game in 2017. The problem with drafting or acquiring Kamara at his current price is you're projecting an outlier. Either you're projecting Alvin Kamara's touches to stay the same and his efficiency to once again be in the stratosphere, or you're projecting his touches to go up significantly as his efficiency comes back to earth. The efficiency argument should be obvious to most. Unless Alvin Kamara is the second coming of LaDainian Tomlinson and then some, his efficiency numbers should regress, at least a little bit, towards the mean.
The usage argument might take a little more convincing. No prob. I've been told
Zero. Zero times has a Sean Payton coached running back seen an average of 15 or more carries per game for a 16 game season. Deuce McCalister was the closest with 14.4* carries per game in Payton's first year as head coach of the Saints. Mark Ingram has been the closest thing to a bell cow back in that Saints offense since McCallister's time before the Payton era, and his highest single-season carry total was 230 this past season.
The running back usage in a Sean Payton offense isn't just some fluke based on missed games or season-ending injuries; it's a coaching decision. In 11 years leading Who Dat Nation, only 30 times has a Sean Payton coached running back attained or eclipsed 20 carries in a single game. That's concerning for people drafting Alvin Kamara as high as number one overall. There's just no reason to think he'll get the kind of usage required to bust through into the upper echelon of all-purpose running back numbers.
How About Some Perspective
Ezekiel Elliott: 84% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The Dallas Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since that day, Elliott has seen a total of 21 games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 25.
Le'Veon Bell: 51% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Le'Veon Bell with the 48th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Since that day, Bell has seen a total of 32 games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 62
Todd Gurley: 36% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The (then) St. Louis Rams selected Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Since that day, Gurley has seen a total of 16 games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 44.
David Johnson: 24% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The Arizona Cardinals selected David Johnson with the 86th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Since that day, Johnson has seen a total of eight games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 33.
Mark Ingram: 13% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The New Orleans Saints selected Mark Ingram with the 28th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Since that day, Ingram has seen a total of 12 games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 94.
Alvin Kamara: 0% Of Games with 20+ Carries
The New Orleans Saints selected Alvin Kamara with the 67th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Since that day, Kamara has seen a total of ZERO games with 20 or more carries. He's played in 16.
None of this should scare you off as a Kamara owner. Alvin Kamara is a talented player with tremendous upside, especially in PPR scoring. This article was written to deter the Ezekiel Elliott owner with his mouse over the send button on a straight-up Zeke for Kamara dynasty trade because of the news Mark Ingram went down with a four-game suspension, and to encourage the Kamara owner trying to acquire Zeke to take that trade to the bank! Kamara will be good this year. His floor in PPR should be right near the back of RB1. He just doesn't have the kind of upside year-in and year-out to compete with guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell.
*On a Per-Game Basis, Mark Ingram's 17.4 Carries in 2014 were the Best of the Sean Payton Era. He Played 13 Games in that Season.