Will Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes Live Up To The Hype?
An Early Look Ahead at some Players Generating Significant Fantasy Football Buzz
Every year there are players that receive a tremendous amount of Fantasy Football hype in the offseason. The situation that the player has found himself in along with his previous success on the field can drive analysts and fans alike mad as they attempt to project the outcomes for the following year.
With the recent suspension of Mark Ingram, the hype train of a certain New Orleans Saints running back has officially taken off with reckless abandon. Be aware, however; “busting” is real and can happen to anyone. Get hyped, but draft wisely. One of the following names will bust and if he is drafted too high, it can eliminate any sort of perceived value.
As if the hype surrounding Kamara was not already through the roof, the news broke this week that Ingram - Kamara’s backfield mate- will be suspended for the first four games of the season for use of banned substances. We all know the kind of impact Kamara had on Fantasy teams last season. Kamara was a late-round pick (if he was drafted at all) in redraft leagues and finished the season as the RB4 in standard and RB3 in PPR. He was the lottery ticket of 2017 and will be one of the hottest commodities in the first-round next season.
Kamara will now walk into the first four games of the season with the bulk of the workload solely on his back. And look at who he faces -- Week 1: The Buccaneers, ranked 32nd in total defense last year. Week 2: The Cleveland Browns, 14th in total defense. Week 4: At the New York Giants, ranked 31st in total defense. The real challenge will be in Atlanta in Week 3, as they were the ninth-ranked defense last season. Kamara had his worst game of the season in their first meeting, only recording a total of 27 yards, which included two yards on only one carry. It is safe to assume more than one carry for Kamara, as Ingram toted the ball 12 times in that contest.
Kamara did play better in his next outing against the Falcons, as he recorded seven receptions. The Falcons are susceptible to pass-catching running backs and allowed over six receptions a game to the position in 2017.
Kamara has a role carved out for him regardless of Ingram’s presence. The rookie caught 81 passes last season. The opportunities are only going to grow for Kamara, who the Saints have deemed their back of the future. The beginning of the season should move Kamara easily into a Top 5 pick and the high draft capital should be justified by the amount of volume he receives even when Ingram does return to the lineup.
Alvin Kamara didn't have more than 12 carries or 19 touches from scrimmage in any game last year.@NFLResearch
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) May 8, 2018
The Kansas City Chiefs traded Alex Smith to the Redskins before the Super Bowl. That should tell you how the franchise feels about the second-year quarterback out of Texas Tech, Patrick Mahomes. He has the keys to the Rolls Royce now, with weapons aplenty. He walks into 2018 with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt at his disposal. On an Andy Reid coached team that saw Smith throw for career-highs in yards (4,042), touchdowns (26), and passer rating (104.7), Smith finished as the QB4 in 2017 and that is the kind of upside Mahomes has for 2018.
Mahomes is currently going in the 11th round in 12-team drafts according to Fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Waiting on a quarterback is the recommended strategy by virtually all Fantasy football analysts. If that is the route one should choose, then why not take a chance on Mahomes? Worst-case scenario is he is a bust and does not provide consistent Fantasy production. A 10th or 11th round pick warrants the ability to drop a player instantly, in which case full steam ahead at quarterback. Some streamers that paid off well in 2017l: Case Keenum, Jared Goff, and Deshaun Watson.
Mahomes’ situation could not be better, but owners can also feel good about his draft capital in 2017. The Chiefs traded up for Mahomes and selected him with the 10th overall pick, ahead of Watson, who was picked 12th overall. Fantasy drafters can also feel good about Mahomes’ college production, as he threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns to go along with 285 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in his Junior season before declaring for the NFL Draft. The kid is a stud at 6’2 and 225 pounds and is the perfect candidate as a late-round quarterback in 2018.
One of the most highly-coveted prospects at the running back position in the history of the NFL, Saquon Barkley now has a home with the New York Giants. Selected with the number two overall choice, the Giants made Barkley their running back of the future, but more importantly for redraft leaguers, the present. Yes, Barkley will be the consensus number one overall selection in Dynasty rookie drafts, but he may also be a Top 5 pick in redraft leagues as well. His ADP is currently 1.07 in PPR leagues and he will not make it out of the first round in most formats.
Barkley does not have the backfield all to himself. Jonathan Stewart had 198 carries last season with the Panthers, which was 19th in the league. Shane Vereen is known as a pass-catching specialist and Wayne Gallman was the Giants fourth-round selection last season. However, Barkley figures to see the bulk of touches and is capable of being a three-down back. At 6’0”, 233 pounds, Barkley is big enough to be a bruising back up the middle, but his 4.4 40-time suggests that he is a burner when he gets the ball in space. He also saw a 14.8 percent target share in the passing game at Penn State, which is in the 93rd percentile for running backs according to playerprofiler.com.
Barkley is a risk considering his ADP. When we consider the potential of Mahomes in regard to his 11th round cost, it is a no-brainer. However, Barkley’s first-round price makes his ceiling a must-hit for his draft cost to return value. The Giants were 28th in rushing under during a 2017 season that should be discarded completely. Pat Shurmur has come to New York, and he has historically fielded competent offenses as the Offensive Coordinator of the Rams, Eagles, and Vikings. The Giants also signed left tackle Nate Solder and guard Patrick Omameh, so positive regression is certainly due for the Giants running game.
Barkley is currently being drafted ahead of Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt, and LeSean McCoy. All but Fournette have excelled in the passing game as well as running the ball, but Barkley is a generational talent that has drafters on full-tilt salivating for a Top 5 finish. Proceed with caution when drafting Barkley, as it may be an unwise move to take a rookie who has not played a game in the NFL that high.
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