New Orleans Saints
"“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be”."
My main man Thanos wasn’t much of a football fan, but his words perfectly describe the New Orleans Saints offense. For years the Saints were a team that relied heavily on the arm of Drew Brees. Recently however they’ve made a clear attempt to dial the vet back and focus more on establishing a potent running game. In 2017 their quest for balance was completed, when they drafted Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara in the third round.
Kamara began his rookie season a bit slow with washed up Adrian Peterson stealing snaps from him. Eventually the Saints realized that they were purposely using a musket instead of an AK-47, and made the move to increase Kamara’s snaps and move on from Peterson. It immediately paid off. With Peterson riding the pine in London, Kamara exploded for ten catches, 71 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.
The Saints traded Peterson to Arizona the next week, and it was officially all systems go for a running game that would eventually yield the fifth most yards in the NFL.
Despite the trade of Adrian Peterson, Kamara never saw more than twelve carries in a game all season and had just one single 100 yard rushing effort. In that process however, Kamara proved that running backs can be game-changers in areas besides just taking handoffs. He had a staggering 81 receptions, 826 yards, and five touchdowns through the air, and was essentially the Saints second-most used receiver.
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The electrifying Kamara is only half of the Saints fantastic backfield. The other half is seven-year veteran Mark Ingram, who turned in by far his best professional season in 2017. Ingram ran for 1100 yards and twelve touchdowns, both career-highs, on a 4.9 yard-per-carry average (second best mark of his career). Kamara wasn’t the only one making a difference in the passing game, as Ingram also had a breakout season as a pass-catcher, notching more career-highs with catches, 58, and yards with 416.
Kamara is the lightning to Ingram’s thunder, and together the two were nearly unstoppable last season. The bad news is that Ingram will miss the first four games of the 2018 season after failing a drug test. Kamara will need to carry the load – something he didn’t do at Tennessee or his rookie season with New Orleans. We can definitely look for a statistical step backwards for the Saints backfield as a whole, but you would be wise to draft Alvin Kamara very high in your fantasy drafts; he’s going to feast.