In 2017 and 2018, few NFL players were as explosive and productive as Alvin Kamara.
The New Orleans Saints running back was a third-round pick and an instant star. He averaged 6.1 yards per rush and 10.2 yards per catch as a rookie. He was the NFL offensive rookie of the year. His second season was very good too, with 1,592 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. Kamara energized the Saints offense. He helped make New Orleans a Super Bowl contender again.
This season has been a much different story for Kamara. An injury seems to have lingered upon his return. The Saints and Kamara face the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
The Saints are 10-3 and still Super Bowl contenders. But to push through a tough NFC in the playoffs to make it back to the Super Bowl, they probably need Kamara to have a bigger impact.
Alvin Kamara’s production is down
Fantasy football playoffs are in full swing for most leagues, but if you drafted Kamara in the first round you’re probably out already.
It has been a long time since Kamara had a big game. He had two touchdowns on Sept. 22 at the Seattle Seahawks, and hasn’t scored since. The Saints leaned on Kamara hard in that game, the first without injured quarterback Drew Brees, and maybe that took something out of him. At some point Kamara suffered a high ankle sprain and missed some games. When he returned, the big plays didn’t come back.
Kamara hasn’t been bad since he returned. In five games since missing time, he has averaged a solid 4.6 yards per rush. But he hasn’t been his usual explosive self in the passing game (5.3 yards per catch) and simply hasn’t looked like the same back. Among backs with at least 140 snaps, Kamara’s Pro Football Focus grade is 21st of 27 qualified backs.
After putting up more than 3,100 scrimmage yards and 31 touchdowns his first two seasons, Kamara is stuck on 1,074 yards and two scores. Kamara has been decent, just not the same back we’re used to seeing.
Kamara struggled last week
Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Kamara had just 25 rushing yards on 13 carries. He had 17 yards on one carry, and 8 yards on his other 12 attempts.
Saints coach Sean Payton doesn’t sound worried. He said this week that the way games have unfolded and the strength of some of New Orleans’ opponents have been factors in Kamara’s production.
“He’s too talented a player. I’m seeing everything in practice, the way he prepares,” Payton said. “His best football this season’s ahead of him.”
The Saints hope so. Kamara is one of the most talented backs in the NFL. The Saints are still very good even without Kamara having another great season. But to get where they want to go, the Saints probably need the Kamara we saw his first two years in the league.
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