As if the New Orleans Saints' backfield wasn’t hard enough to project already, rookie Alvin Kamara has been one of the breakout stars of the preseason -- highlighted by his 50-yard touchdown run on the Saints’ first play from scrimmage Sunday.
I still think it’s hard to predict a major role for Kamara since he’s stuck behind two veteran stars in Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson (both of whom were healthy scratches in the first two preseason games).
But I do think Kamara will see the field even more as a runner/receiver than I might have guessed before the start of his stellar training camp.
Here are my updated projections for the Saints’ backs in 2017:
The good and bad news for fantasy owners is that I don’t think any of these guys are really “boom or bust” risks. They should all come relatively close to those projections, if healthy, in one of the NFL’s elite offenses.
But none of them should wildly exceed their projections, either. It’s not like one guy will “win” the main job and flirt with 1,500-plus yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns unless the others get hurt.
So where should you draft them?
I’d say Ingram becomes a good value in the late fourth or early fifth round -- once you get past the top 20 running backs. And Peterson becomes a good value in the seventh or eighth round -- once you get past the top 30-35 backs.
I’ve been joining in a handful of ESPN Fantasy mocks over the past few weeks, and I actually wound up drafting Ingram and Peterson as a duo in one of them (not a bad idea since either one would have a big increase in value if the other is hurt).
That league was a 12-team, non-PPR format, and I took Ingram midway through the fourth round (RB No. 20) and Peterson midway through the seventh (RB No. 36).
I would probably lean toward guys with a little higher upside, like veterans Montgomery and Bilal Powell or rookies Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon, in that range. But I wouldn’t let Ingram fall further than RB No. 22 -- which is where he went in that draft, early in Round 5.
Peterson again went in the mid-seventh round in that draft (RB No. 30).
In both drafts, Kamara went in the 12th round (exactly RB No. 54 both times). It’s worth noting that both drafts were completed before Kamara’s 50-yard TD run on Sunday night. So maybe he should be even more tempting now as a potential top-50 running back -- especially in PPR leagues. But it’s just so hard to predict consistent touches for him.
Kamara should absolutely be on your dynasty-league radar, though. Kamara is more than just a pass-catcher, as he has shown with runs of 50, 22 and 12 yards in the preseason. And Peterson, 32, and Ingram, 27, both have just two years left on their contracts.