2017 Rookie Profile: Alvin Kamara (Fantasy Football)

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Welcome to the third installment of the “Rookie Profile” series. In the past two articles by our resident Dynasty dude, Cory Evans, he dove into the two most talked about RBs in the 2017 class, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette. I’m going to talk about a runner who’s moved up draft boards so quick, the Flash would even be impressed with this type of lights out showing at the NFL Combine. This edition is about the Tennessee Volunteers’ tailback, Alvin Kamara.

NFL Scouting Combine
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There are two things that happened during this year’s Combine in Indianapolis that made analysts, like NFL’s Mike Mayock, take notice of Alvin Kamara. He had the best vertical jump with 39.5 inches and the best broad jump at 131 inches total! Now that’s how you make a lasting impression! For a guy who mainly has been in the backup role and used as a change of pace and pass-catching scat-back the past two years, Kamara really turned heads and made coaches and scouts start taking a hard look at him.

Even with only 4.56 on his 40-yard dash time, which is quite a disappointment considering how fast he looks on film, Alvin is known for his speed and athleticism. He’s very much a spirited runner with NFL size and speed and can open up creases by just switching up the pace of his runs. He can burst to top speeds at a flip of a switch, while creating yardage by power, twitching around, and being decisive. He has a very strong lower body that provides stellar, superior balance. He’s flexible and agile with an ability to twist, spin, and bounce off defender’s bodies and continue to gain yards after contact. But most of all, he’s a premier pass catcher, which is his biggest strength. Let’s take a look at his college production.

Collegiate Production
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Despite the impressive resume that Alvin Kamara has put together since 2015, he has never seen 20 carries in a game in his NCAA career. The benefit is that scouts believe this has saved a lot of wear and tear on his legs. In 2016, he rushed for fewer yards (596) but still gained 2 more rushing touchdowns than his 2015 campaign. The stats that jump off the page for Kamara are his big-time increase in receiving yards, while only moving up 6 more receptions than last season. When Alvin gets out in the open and catches a pass, you might as well consider him gone, because he’ll likely be in the end zone by the time you blink next. Another great asset is his experience as a punt returner. So even if he doesn’t get a starting gig right away, he can be used in special teams as he transitions from that to an every down back in the NFL.

As good as he is, there are some flaws to point out. His biggest weakness is his vision, which can be hit or miss. He is certainly not the most instinctive runner. He has to see running lanes more clearly and is missing a feel for reading his blocks at times. His decisions are inconsistent on stretch plays that unfold outside of the designed play. That certainly could be his own worst enemy in the NFL. He also tends to run himself into a tackler rather than setting himself up for a downfield blocker. Kamara is often cutting left when given an open-field choice of where to juke against tacklers. Also, bringing the ball up higher and tighter could also help him to prevent fumbles against much tougher defenses in the league. With knee injuries in his background from this past year and junior year, his durability and medicals could come into play on where he lands this year. All in all, if he can stay on the field and upright, he can make a great impact for any team.

Fantasy Outlook

There’s a lot of difference when it comes to the immediate impact on fantasy football with Alvin Kamara versus the likes of Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. The two previous colleagues have a chance to be penciled in as the starter on the right team and scheme, much to the comparison of Ezekiel Elliott, who landed with the Cowboys and the best offensive line in the NFL. The same success could come to both Cook and Fournette in that situation. With Kamara, it’s about finding a team that knows how to use a hybrid like himself that could really make a difference. We’ve seen what versatile tailbacks can do in the big leagues. Just look at the way James White terrorized the Atlanta Falcons just this past Super Bowl and what he is able to do under the right guidance. Speaking of the Falcons, look at the beastly duo in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman that can both run it right down an opponent’s throats, or catch with the greatest of ease like a true wide receiver.

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Redraft wise he’s a late-round flyer when you’re looking for a dark horse in your draft that with the right opportunity, could make a big splash in PPR formats. But in the grand scheme of it all, he will be a sleeper and waiver wire pickup that you’ll need to monitor closely. Opportunity is everything!

In Dynasty formats, his stock is definitely on the uptick since his big performance at the Combine. Before the NFL Combine, in Dynasty mock drafts he was going in the 1.12 spot behind other RBs: Cook and Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Joe Mixon. (Both you will see in future installments of the “Rookie Profile” series by the way) But since the Combine, he’s been seen in the 1.08-1.10 range, sometimes ahead of the controversial Joe Mixon. He certainly is to be a Dynasty asset for any team needing depth and production at RB for years to come, going at the back half of the 1st Round. However, if he finds the right team, he may just see one more spike for those that like to wait after the NFL Draft has finished.

In closing, Alvin Kamara is a rising and competitive runner who has dawned some remarkable flashes of pro-level talent at various times over the last two seasons. The guy is a committed runner with excellent balance and legitimate homerun ability. While he never logged 20 carries in a single game, he has the talent to play on all three downs if he can prove his durability and willpower to keep getting better with his elusiveness and vision downfield.

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