- Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara owners, rejoice! With Adrian Peterson now in Arizona, the other Saints' backs can get their full (and deserved) share of touches.
The Saints and Cardinals made the rare trade in the middle of an NFL season on Tuesday. Finally admitting the failure of the Adrian Peterson experiment, the Saints sent the veteran to the Cardinals for a conditional draft pick.
Even rarer than the midseason NFL trade is the one that has legitimate fantasy implications. In this case, it’s the team the traded player leaves behind, not the player himself, that will feel the greatest effects of the trade. It’s time for Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara owners to rejoice.
Peterson was clearly the No. 3 back in the rotation in New Orleans, but he was still taking too much work away from Ingram and Kamara. Even though Peterson only had 27 carries in four games with the Saints, each one took away from the other two superior backs. With him in Arizona, the Saints can now focus on their two backs who can actually make plays and move the ball down the field.
For my money, Ingram is the big winner here. Kamara will see his snap rate increase, but he was already in command of the receiving work out of the Saints backfield. He has 28 targets on the season, compared with 22 for Ingram. Peterson, meanwhile, had just three targets. Kamara gets an uptick in value, to be sure, but he’ll still do most of his damage as a receiver, and his primary competitor for those looks is still in town. In fact, my first instinct would be to try to trade Kamara, with his perceived fantasy value certainly on the rise, likely more than is warranted.
Ingram, on the other hand, just waved goodbye to the player who was directly curbing his fantasy value. Ingram has 42 carries in the Saints four games this season, or 10.5 per game. Ingram had 12.8 carries per game last year, 13.8 in 2015, and 17.4 in 2014. If you gave half of Peterson’s carries to date to Ingram, he’d be at 13.8 per game, which is right in line with the trends for both his entire career and recent seasons. With Peterson in the desert, it’s reasonable to expect Ingram to average 18-plus carries and targets per game the rest of the season.
This is where, as an Ingram supporter, I remind you how well he played the last two seasons. He racked up nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns last year. The previous season, he had 1,174 total yards and six scores in 12 games. The biggest reason the Peterson signing never made sense was the presence of Ingram, a 27-year-old running back who posted the best season of his career in 2015, and then annihilated all those benchmarks in 2016. With Peterson gone, Ingram will once again flourish.
As for Peterson, there’s not much reason to get excited about him, even though he’ll get a shot to be the Cardinals primary runner. Opportunity is great, but Peterson is a 32-year-old back with two significant knee injuries in his past who has rushed for 153 yards on 64 carries, or 2.39 yards per carry, the last two seasons. The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and Peterson is long past the point of his career where he could make up for that on his own. If he’s available in your league, he’s worth a flier on waivers. I couldn’t be less excited about him, but I’ll be checking waiver lists in my leagues because you can never have too much depth at running back. Still, I don’t expect much from him, and you shouldn’t either. The bet here is that if you do pick him up, you’ll end up dropping him again at some point this season.
If you’ve invested in Andre Ellington, don’t let this scare you away. Ellington has a whopping 40 targets on the season, catching 28 of them for 257 yards. He has turned himself into one of the most reliable, dangerous weapons in the Cardinals offense, and Peterson is not a threat to eat into his passing-game work. The Cardinals aren’t likely to cut into their overall pass rate, either, especially with an offensive line that would make that harder to accomplish, even if it were something that interested Bruce Arians.