NFL

NFL Prop Betting: Alvin Kamara Is Primed to Go Over His Yardage Total

Few NFL players are as exciting as New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, and when he's healthy, he can do some crazy things out on the football field -- especially in the yardage category.

Last season, Kamara missed two games in the middle of the season and ultimately combined for 1,330 scrimmage yards (95.0 per game for a 16-game pace of 1,520 yards).

FanDuel Sportsbook has set the over/under on his scrimmage yards in 2020 at 1,549.5, so that tracks.

There are clear reasons to think that Kamara goes over that prop just as he did in his first two seasons (1,554 and 1,592 yards, respectively).

An Extended Workload and Some Precedent

We've rarely seen Kamara unleashed for elevated snaps over extended periods of time, but we have had some glimpses. He's been great in that role.

In 2018, with Mark Ingram suspended to start the year, Kamara played 81.3%, 77.3%, 84.8%, and 84.3% of the Saints' offensive snaps. In those four games, he averaged 68.8 rushing yards and 84.0 receiving yards (152.8 scrimmage yards -- a 16-game pace of 2,444.8 yards). Ingram returned, and Kamara's role tapered off. He ended the year with 1,592 scrimmage yards.

Last year, Kamara had a similar start: 75.8%, 63.5%, 87.5%, 78.6%, and 68.1% of the snaps through five games. In those five, he averaged 68.4 rushing yards and 48.2 receiving yards (116.6 scrimmage yards -- a 16-game pace of 1,865.6 yards).

He wound up on the injury report due to a high-ankle and knee issue entering Week 6 and wasn't quite the same after that. In his final eight games after returning from injury, Kamara's totals dipped to 53.0 rushing yards and 32.1 receiving yards per game (85.1 per game -- a 16-game pace of 1,361.6).

He called himself 75% due to the lower-body injury and has claimed to be 100% again.

When healthy and when featured as a primary back, Kamara has been on pace to smash 1,550 scrimmage yards. So what might stand in the way?

Is Latavius Murray a Thing?

When returning from injury last year, Kamara said he'd be fine sharing the backfield with Latavius Murray, who stepped in while Kamara was dinged up.

It didn't exactly happen that way, and Kamara cleared 62.7% of the team's snaps in his first seven games back from injury, including three games with at least 75% of the snaps. The efficiency dipped -- mostly the receiving -- and that's what really capped Kamara's yardage output.

Through his first 36 career games, Kamara averaged 9.45 yards per catch and 7.53 yards per target. After returning from his injury last year, he averaged 5.35 yards per catch and 4.43 yards per target (but still averaged 5.00 yards per rush on 85 carries).

As for Murray, he maxed out at a 40% snap rate in from Weeks 9 through 16 and only once hit double-digit carries in those games -- despite 27 and 21 carries in two games sans-Kamara. Kamara may have been fine sharing the workload, but the Saints didn't see it that way. The biggest problem for Kamara would be short-yardage situations with Murray and franchise quarterback Taysom Hill. That shouldn't hurt his yardage outputs much at all.

Projecting Kamara

The cautious way to project Kamara is probably to look at his usage after returning from injury while "sharing" the load with Murray. Kamara had 48.7% of the team's rushes and 58.3% of the team's running back carries. He has averaged 5.00 yards per carry on his career with a season-low of 4.6. His rushing efficiency still was there after the injury (again 5.00 yards per rush).

After his return, Kamara also had 21.0% of the team's targets, but (again) had a decline in receiving efficiency. The targets were there, though.

So. At a 48% rushing workload and 20% target share, Kamara, in my model, has a projection of 198 carries for 938 yards and 84 catches for 687 yards (a total of 1,625 scrimmage yards). That's the projection at his post-injury rushing and target shares while also scaling back a bit from his career averages on a per-carry and per-target basis.

It looks like the only thing standing in Kamara's way from hitting the over is getting banged up again.