Game-By-Game Projections: Alvin Kamara (2020 Fantasy Football)
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If you drafted Saints running back Alvin Kamara in fantasy last year, he probably let you down. He earned 1,330 all-purpose yards and six scores, good for an overall RB9 finish in PPR. While those are respectable numbers, they’re not what you want out of a top-five pick.
Kamara’s struggles in 2019 were linked to two developments. First, he played while hurt, as he claims to have been at 75 percent during the year after he hurt his leg. He also missed back-to-back games in Week 8 and Week 9 with the injury.
Second, the Saints lost complementary back Mark Ingram, which increased Kamara’s weekly workload. In the six games before his first injury-related absence, Kamara was averaging 19.8 touches per game, a notch above his 18.3 from the season prior. In fantasy, increased volume stats are a blessing and a curse — they increase the potential for both points and injuries.
With a full offseason to get healthy, I see Kamara as a rebound candidate for next season. The Saints should now be more comfortable trusting Latavius Murray if Kamara needs a break, so I’d look for him to approach his 2018 efficiency levels.
Week 1: vs. Buccaneers
While Tom Brady and Drew Brees will dominate the headlines in this one, Kamara should make his presence known, too. The Buccaneers fielded a pass-funnel defense last season, and Football Outsiders graded them as the most efficient team against the run. Their defensive lineup hasn’t changed too much, and I expect them to beat the run while losing to the pass again this year. That said, Kamara gashed them for 137 rushing yards and 87 passing yards in two games last year, so I’m not worried about him getting shut down.
Predicted Stat Line: 13 attempts, 67 yards; 7 receptions, 42 yards (17.9 fantasy points).
Week 2: at Raiders
The Raiders play the Saints in their Las Vegas debut. I expect the Saints to impose their will on Gruden’s scrappy squad, and running the ball with Kamara and Murray should be a large part of their gameplan. The Raiders just didn’t add enough defensive talent over the offseason for me to feel excited about their chances to compete.
Predicted Stat Line: 16 attempts, 82 yards; 6 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD (26.9 fantasy points).
Week 3: vs. Packers
Another classic — in this one, we’ll see Aaron Rodgers take on Brees. The Packers fared better against the pass than the run last season, and they haven’t done much (yet) for their defense. It should be a high-scoring, pass-heavy affair, but Kamara will get his slice of the pie.
Predicted Stat Line: 13 attempts, 54 yards; 9 receptions, 72 yards (21.6 fantasy points).
Week 4: at Lions
Averaging 22.1 points per game through three weeks is impressive, but it’s probably not sustainable. The Saints play the Lions in Week 4, and Matt Patricia’s team has been more exploitable through the air than on the ground. If New Orleans gets out to an early lead, Kamara might see more carries, but Murray could also benefit from their clock management decisions.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 attempts, 57 yards; 5 receptions, 37 yards (14.4 fantasy points).
Week 5: vs. Chargers
The Chargers were not a good football team last year. And despite their respectable offseason, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be a good team next year, either. Their defense finished in the bottom half against both the pass and the run, so don’t be surprised if the Saints control the game from the outset.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 attempts, 68 yards; 4 receptions, 24 yards (13.2 fantasy points).
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs. Panthers
The Panthers were a juicy defense to target last season. Unfortunately, new head coach Matt Rhule and his all-defense draft class will make the Panthers less vulnerable next year. I still think Kamara gets the best of them at home, but he’ll have a tougher task beating them in Week 17.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 75 yards; 6 receptions, 46 yards, 1 TD (23.1 fantasy points).
Week 8: at Bears
The Bears’ once-studly defense came crashing back to Earth last season, mostly due to their offensive struggles. Although Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles aren’t long-term solutions at quarterback, a healthier defense headlined by Akiem Hicks should be able to limit Kamara’s fantasy upside in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 attempts, 52 yards; 4 receptions, 23 yards, 1 FUM (9.5 fantasy points).
Week 9: at Buccaneers
We’ll get a rematch of Week 1’s Brees vs. Brady game in Week 9. I give the Bucs the advantage here as the home team, but Kamara should still post respectable fantasy numbers through the air.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 attempts, 29 yards; 11 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD, 1 FUM (22.5 fantasy points).
Week 10: vs. 49ers
The Saints’ star rusher famously busted against the 49ers last season. Despite the 45-42 final score, Kamara only earned 25 rushing yards (on 13 attempts!) and 18 passing yards, and he did not score. I think he can beat those numbers, but that’s not a very high bar, is it?
Predicted Stat Line: 12 attempts, 31 yards; 6 receptions, 37 yards (12.8 fantasy points).
Week 11: vs. Falcons
New Orleans plays Atlanta twice in three weeks. They get them at home first, and it should be a high-scoring affair. In 2018, a healthy Kamara posted 288 yards in two games against the Falcons, and I’m expecting more of the same here.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 attempts, 72 yards; 8 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD (28.1 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Broncos
Visiting Denver will give teams a harsh dose of reality next season. Vic Fangio’s defense will have had a year to gel, and I’m expecting him to get the most out of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. Yes, their defense didn’t grade much better than Atlanta’s last season (both are around mid-pack), but I have enough faith in Fangio to limit Kamara’s projections for this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 attempts, 37 yards; 4 receptions, 26 yards (10.3 fantasy points).
Week 13: at Falcons
And then it’s right back to normal for Kamara. In what could be the first round of your fantasy playoffs — or the must-win game before they begin — look for Kamara to give your fantasy lineup a much-needed boost.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 109 yards; 5 receptions, 35 yards (25.4 fantasy points).
Week 14: at Eagles
Philly graded out as the fourth-best defense against the run last season. Their defense may regress somewhat with the loss of Tim Jernigan, but Fletcher Cox remains the anchor of this front seven. That said, Kamara notched 72 yards on the ground against the Eagles in 2018, so I’m not fading him completely in this matchup.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 attempts, 61 yards; 4 receptions, 24 yards, 1 TD, 1 FUM (14.5 fantasy points).
Week 15: vs. Chiefs
The Chiefs fielded one of the worst defenses against the run early in the year, but they improved greatly as the season progressed. While the squad ended the year 29th overall, this should be a high-scoring game, and there won’t be lots of chances for Kamara to run the ball.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 attempts, 38 yards; 7 receptions, 45 yards (15.3 fantasy points).
Week 16: vs. Vikings
Can you name a better combination than the Saints and losing to Minnesota in key games? Karma for Bountygate has certainly hit the franchise hard, and I don’t expect anything new here. The Vikings’ addition of Michael Pierce will make their eighth-ranked rushing defense even better despite the loss of Everson Griffen. Kamara could be a huge bust in fantasy championship weeks next season.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 attempts, 20 yards; 4 receptions, 24 yards (8.4 fantasy points).
Week 17: at Panthers
Your league shouldn’t play through Week 17, but if it does, Kamara my have an opportunity to rebound here. Kamara has been reliable against the Panthers throughout his short career, and I don’t think this will be an exception. The Saints won’t have home-field advantage locked up at this point, as competition from San Francisco, Tampa Bay, or Minnesota will prove tough, so they’ll need to play to win in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 84 yards; 3 receptions, 15 yards, 1 TD (18.9 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 197 attempts, 926 yards; 93 receptions, 652 yards, 6 TDs, 3 FUM (282.8 fantasy points).
Kamara should post a career-high in touches (290) next year, and while I don’t expect him to be as efficient as he was in 2018, these are still rock-solid RB1 numbers. These numbers would’ve been good for an RB7 finish in 2019, just a few points behind Derrick Henry (294.6) and Dalvin Cook (292.4).
As long as Kamara stays healthy, he’s a good bet to finish as a high-end RB1. Lock him in at around fourth or fifth overall in PPR leagues.