For fantasy football owners, Saints RB Alvin Kamara was a heaven sent during the 2020 season. Along with being the top scoring player across PPR leagues, AK also single handedly won thousands of people their fantasy football championship game with his 6 touchdown performance on Christmas Day against the Minnesota Vikings.
Headed into 2021, Kamara's fantasy draft stock will remain similar to last season, but some owners will be weary of using a first round pick on the star running back, with good reason. The concern for fantasy owners, particularly in PPR leagues, comes from the uncertainty at quarterback for the Saints headed into the new year. Kamara's elite fantasy value is due in large part to his ability as a pass catcher, hauling in 81+ receptions in each of his first 4 NFL seasons.
Earlier this month Sean Payton told The Dan Patrick Show that the starting QB job is "an open competition" between QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.
Nonetheless, Kamara should be a 1st Round Fantasy Pick in 2021 regardless of who is the Saints starting QB. The NFL's top fantasy scorer (PPR Leagues) a year ago becomes the new face of the franchise for the Saints in 2021 and will be utilized as such. The 4x Pro-Bowl selection racked up 294.8 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues last season for an average of nearly 20 points per contest played.
But does Kamara's value in 2021 strictly rely on who is playing quarterback? Not entirely but it will make a huge difference in where you draft Kamara and how you utilize him on your roster.
Kamara's Outlook with Taysom Hill as the Starting QB
Who would have thought Taysom Hill's fantasy play in 2020 would end up being the spark to get some "bubble teams" into their league's playoff last season? Hill, a viable QB1 during his month long stint as the New Orleans starter, marched his way into lineups following Drew Brees' injury because of his ability to run the football and find the end zone with his legs.
However, Hill's style of play at QB hurt the Saints best weapon both on the field and in fantasy, Alvin Kamara. Though a small sample size, it does not appear Kamara is best suited for a Taysom Hill ran offense. During the Saints' stretch without Drew Brees (Week 11-14) Kamara saw a noticeable dip in production playing on 57% of the team's offensive snaps and posting 3 consecutive games with 2 or less receptions.
The dip in snaps and receptions resulted in AK's worst fantasy outputs of the season. Including back-to-back performances where he failed to eclipse 11 fantasy points. Headed into 2021, it is hard to imagine that Sean Payton would allow for his $75M running back to see a similar lack of usage.
Again, Kamara is easily a top 5 RB option next season but if (and a big if) Taysom is the starter, expect a big drop in value from the receiving aspect of Kamara's game. A part of his game that makes him such a valuable Fantasy option.
Kamara's Outlook with Jameis Winston as the Starting QB
If you have Kamara in a dynasty league or are lucky enough to receive a top 5 pick in your 2021 draft, you are praying to the Fantasy Football gods that Jameis Winston is the Saints starter. Unlike Hill, there is virtually no sample size for Winston as a Saints quarterback. Winston did begin the second half of Week 10 for the Saints under center but only attempted 10 passes and split snaps with Taysom Hill.
One thing Winston does have though is extensive playing time as an NFL starter. In his first 5 years in the NFL the former #1 overall pick has been named to a Pro-Bowl, thrown for 5,000 yards in a season, and tossed 121 touchdown passes. His cannon arm could bring a whole new dynamic to the Saints offense, creating more one-on-one matchups for Alvin Kamara.
Though a small sample size, Kamara was easily Winston's favorite target in 2020. AK reeled in 4 of Winston's 7 completions in the Black and Gold and even received praise from the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year this week on The HERD with Colin Cowherd.
"With it being his second year in the program, second year being around the guys, second year being around Sean [Payton] learning the offense he has a shot. He can go as far as he want to go. Everybody has to rally around him."
- Alvin Kamara on Jameis Winston
If Winston is at the helm in 2021, Kamara's fantasy value should mirror the years past. Jameis' ability as a pocket passer and sense of extreme maturity will not only bode well for himself and Kamara, but the entire Saints offense. Adding an additional wrinkle will open up the field, ultimately resulting in more opportunities for Kamara in the open field, in the end zone and in your starting line-up week in and week out.
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