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The 2019 season wasn’t what Alvin Kamara, fantasy owners, or prop bettors had in mind for him, but with every regression, there comes a higher chance for progression. The New Orleans Saints’ star running back posted stellar receiving numbers throughout his three-year career, but is 2020 the year he breaks out rushing?
Kamara has failed to record a 1,000-yard season in his Saints career but finished third or better in receptions each season with the team. New Orleans signed Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason and drafted center Cesar Ruiz in the first round to improve the passing attack, and as a result, Kamara’s rushing props have dropped.
DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a fair price of -110 odds on a favorable 850.5 rushing yards; a total Kamara has surpassed in one of three seasons with the Saints. Last season was full of minor injuries for the former Tennessee Vol, and a healthy 2020 should spell a much better outcome for the 24-year-old running back, so let’s take a look.
Check out all of our 2020 NFL Player Prop Bets here.
2019 was a down year for Kamara
Kamara finished the 2019 season with 797 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns in addition to 81 receptions, 533 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown reception. Kamara dealt with an ankle and knee sprain in Weeks 6 and 7, but before the injuries, he averaged 46.6 yards on 10.7 carries and only found the endzone once.
Despite the mid-season injury, Kamara’s numbers were slightly better after sitting out for three weeks. Kamara missed two games and returned to the Saints after the bye week (Week 9) and posted 14.1 carries and 70.6 rushing yards per game. He caught 48 passes over the final eight games of the season, and added 33 in the first six, giving him 81 receptions for the third-consecutive season.
2019 was the first season Kamara failed to record a 100-yard rushing game, the closest he came was Week 1 versus Houston (97 yards). His career-high for rushing yards is 883 (2018), and in all three seasons, he’s recorded 728 rushing yards or more. Last season as also the first year, Kamara failed to combine for double-digit rushing and receiving touchdowns.
Kamara’s 2020 Projections
FantasyPros projects Kamara to record 194 carries, 902 rushing yards, and 8 touchdowns on the ground. He’s also projected to record 80 receptions for 590 receiving yards and 3 scores. His rushing projection of 902 yards would be a career-high for the former Tennessee Vol, and he’s yet to play 16 games since his rookie campaign in 2017.
His 2020 schedule is a positive sign for his expected progression this season. The Saints will face four teams (5 games) that finished top-10 in rushing yards allowed last season and four that finished 21st or worse (5 games). The NFC South has favorable games for Kamara, who had strong showing versus all three opponents last season.
Kamara was a PPR monster versus Atlanta racking up 12 receptions and 73 yards on 18 targets compared to 15 carries and 85 yards in two games last season. Versus Carolina, he recorded 19 carries for 93 yards to 11 receptions on 13 targets for 93 yards in both meetings. Tampa Bay finished first in rushing defense last season but allowed Kamara to have the most success versus a division opponent, rushing 29 times for 137 yards and 16 receptions on 17 targets for 99 yards.
|Week / Opponent||Rushing Yards Allowed|
|Weeks 1, 9 vs Buccaneers||73.8 (1st)|
|Week 2 at Raiders||98.1 (8th)|
|Week 3 vs Packers||120.1 (T-23rd)|
|Week 4 at Lions||115.9 (21st)|
|Week 5 vs Chargers||112.8 (18th)|
|Week 7, 17 vs Panthers||143.5 (29th)|
|Week 8 at Bears||102.0 (9th)|
|Weeks 10 vs 49ers||112.6 (17th)|
|Weeks 11, 13 vs Falcons||110.9 (15th)|
|Week 12 at Broncos||114.1 (16th)|
|Week 14 at Eagles||90.1 (3rd)|
|Week 15 vs Chiefs||128.1 (26th)|
|Week 16 vs Vikings||108.0 (13th)|
Looking at the opponents on the 2020 schedule, they appear competitive for New Orleans, but Kamara is such a dynamic playmaker that he should see a bump in his 10.5 carries and 6.5 receptions per game versus the NFC South in 2019.
He was a dynamic playmaker in his first two seasons, scoring 13 times as a rookie and 18 total times in his second season but failed to score recording six total touchdowns in 2019. The improvement across the board seems likely, and I have to back FantasyPros predictions of Kamara to reach double-digit scores for the third time in his four-year career, and a career-high in carries and rushing yards.
At the end of the day, this prop total is too low of a mark for one of the best running backs in the league. Kamara will be 25-years-old at the beginning of the season, and he’s just beginning to reach his peak while entering a contract year.
Kamara needs to average 53 rushing yards per game over a 16-game span to hit the over on his prop, a total he’s surpassed in his last two seasons. Kamara has only topped 850 once (2018), but this is more than in his range after averaging 56.9 rushing yards over a banged-up 14 game-season in 2019.
The Saints running back committee will rely mostly on Kamara, even though Latavius Murray returns for the second-straight season. Kamara played 69.2% of the offensive snaps last season, a slight increase from 66.3% in 2018, despite playing in one less game and receiving 23 fewer carries on the year, per PlayerProfiler.
Sure, Kamara may record his fourth-consecutive 81-reception season, and that could hinder his carries, but with a career-lows of 4.6 and 4.7 yards per carry over the past two seasons, he only needs 185 rushes to surpass 850 yards on the ground. 185 carries over 16 games are 11.5 per game, which is a possible accomplishment for Kamara given he’s exceeded that his last two seasons.
21 running backs ran the ball 184 times or more in 2017 and 2019, and that number dipped to 18 in 2018 when Kamara posted career-highs rushing. After a banged up 2019, bet on Kamara to have a bounceback season, and return to his average of 5.13 yards per carry in his first two seasons with New Orleans.