Alvin Kamara is a tricky player to value in dynasty fantasy football entering the 2022 season, as he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. After an overall RB1 finish in 2020, Kamara was good, not great in 2021. With the Saints’ offense hoping to get a full season of Jameis Winston under center, how should dynasty managers value Kamara going forward?
Alvin Kamara’s dynasty profile for 2022
Bolstered by an epic 6-touchdown Week 16, Kamara averaged 25.2 PPR fantasy points per game in 2020, en route to an overall RB1 finish. In 2021, Kamara was obviously going to regress, but fantasy managers had to be disappointed by the degree. Although a mid-RB1 finish is nothing to scoff at, a drop to 18.1 ppg is pretty substantial.
The reality is that Kamara was severely hurt by the Saints’ midseason trade for Mark Ingram. Kamara averaged a very healthy 20.6 ppg in his nine games without Ingram. During his four games with him, Kamara averaged just 12.7 ppg. Despite being 33 years old, Ingram is signed through the 2022 season, and it stands to reason New Orleans will use him just like they did last year.
Ingram is very close to done and won’t be an issue for Kamara for too much longer. 2022 will likely be the last time. The problem is that Kamara is also nearing the end. He only has a couple of seasons left where he can be a three-down back — and he won’t be one in 2022 when Ingram is on the field. Even if we assume Kamara gets the backfield to himself in 2023, how many years does he have left?
There’s also the matter of Kamara’s off-the-field incident around the Pro Bowl. We haven’t heard anything about it since it happened, but the likelihood his Kamara will face some sort of suspension. Given past incidents, I don’t think it will be a lengthy ban. For now, I’m not factoring it in much at all, as a 2-4 game suspension for one season just doesn’t move the needle all that much on a player’s dynasty value.
Fantasy projection for Kamara
It’s fair to say Kamara will never do what he did in 2020 ever again. Fantasy managers may be thinking Kamara can improve upon his 2021, though. I’m not so sure. I think 2021 marked the start of a steady decline for Kamara the fantasy player.
By no means do I think Kamara is done. In fact, he’s still more likely than not to be an RB1 this season. It just feels like 18.1 ppg is his ceiling.
The Saints do not want Kamara to be a three-down back. They never did. For fantasy managers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that last season, Kamara’s touches came primarily on the ground. He averaged a career-high 18.5 carries per game. His previous high was just 12.9, occurring in 2018. We want Kamara catching passes.
For the first four years of his career, Kamara averaged over 5 receptions per game. Last season, that number fell to 3.6. What was different last year compared to every other year of his career? Drew Brees.
You may be thinking, “Well, it’s only one season.” Not exactly. We actually have a 17-game sample of Kamara without Brees. With Brees, Kamara has averaged 22.3 ppg. Without Brees, he’s averaged just 17.7 ppg. The combination of a post-Brees world, Ingram’s presence, and Kamara’s diminishing passing game role has me a bit concerned going forward.
What is Kamara’s future beyond 2022?
Kamara is poised to finish out his career with the Saints. He’s signed through his age-31 season, and I don’t expect Kamara to remain an effective player beyond age 30. That gives us somewhere between two and four seasons of fantasy viability remaining.
For better or worse, Kamara should remain with the Saints. If they cut him before the end of his contract, it will almost certainly be because he’s no longer an effective player. So it’s Saints or bust for Kamara and his fantasy managers.
What can fantasy managers expect from Kamara?
Kamara should still be an RB1 in 2022. However, I expect him to gradually decline in productivity. I’m thinking mid RB2 in 2023, low RB2 in 2024, and done by 2025. If he does get cut before the end of his contract, that will likely follow an ineffective season that sees his fantasy value plummet.
The Saints need to figure out their quarterback situation long-term. Is it Winston? Or do they need to find one in the draft? If it’s not Winston, Kamara doesn’t have time for someone else to emerge (outside of the Saints trading for an established veteran).
Dynasty managers in the midst of a rebuild really have no use for Kamara. If you’re not contending this season, look to trade him away for a package of younger players and/or picks.
For dynasty managers in win-now mode, I still don’t think Kamara is necessarily more valuable on your roster. He’s certainly not going to hurt you. However, I do think the perception of Kamara in your league may be greater than the reality. Don’t go out of your way to trade Kamara. But if you can turn him into multiple players that can help you win this season in a deal you’re clearly getting the better of, it’s definitely worth considering.