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Fantasy Alert: Alvin Kamara on 'Pitch Count' Despite Mark Ingram's Saints Exit

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IAugust 8, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints warms up before the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Fantasy owners can expect more of the same from Alvin Kamara this season.

During New Orleans Saints training camp, head coach Sean Payton was asked by reporters about how he plans to use Kamara without Mark Ingram, who departed for the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.

"It will be similar to what we've been seeing," Payton said, per ESPN's Mike Triplett. "We've been pleased with the balance we've had with him. We think it's been a good count." 

The Super Bowl-winning head coach continued: "Look, is one player taking exactly Mark Ingram's reps? I can't tell you that right now. And yet I think there's that presumption that Alvin's going to get more. And I think our pitch count and how we’ve played and utilized him has been really good."

According to Triplett, Kamara played in 82 percent of New Orleans' snaps last season during Ingram's four-game suspension and 61 percent for the remaining games alongside Ingram. 

The 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler finished last season with 194 carries for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground and 81 receptions for 709 yards and four touchdowns through the air. It's Kamara's ability as a pass-catching back that makes him especially valuable in fantasy despite limited rushes.

And then there's Latavius Murray, who signed with the Saints as a free agent after playing for Minnesota the last two seasons. In theory, Murray becomes a surprise fantasy asset now that Payton has indicated that the 29-year-old will be handling a similar workload to Ingram's. 

Kamara and Murray are two very different backs, as the latter has never caught a touchdown since entering the NFL in 2014. With the Vikings last season, Murray rushed 140 times for 578 yards and six touchdowns opposed to 22 catches for 141 yards. 

According to ESPN's Fantasy Football, Kamara is projected to rank third among running backs behind Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. Murray is ranked 40th. "Murray is a sneaky flex in touchdown-only leagues, but his real appeal is as arguably the most valuable handcuff in fantasy," ESPN's evaluation said, in part.

All of this is operating under the assumption that Payton's plan in August is full-proof for an entire NFL season.

The threat of injury to Kamara or Murray aside, quarterback Drew Brees is entering his age-40 season. It's always possible that the Saints could be forced to rely on the run more should Brees show any indications of slowing down.