As the NFL season quickly approaches, fantasy football drafts are well underway. You can be as prepared as you want for drafts, but there will still be tough decisions that arise. This season, one of those could be which running back you would rather have in fantasy: Ezekiel Elliott or Alvin Kamara?
Both of these elite RBs have loaded supporting casts that have actually added more weapons this offseason as well. The Saints have added Emmanuel Sanders to their pass catching corps, which already included alpha WR Michael Thomas and the seam-stretching Jared Cook. The Cowboys have added first-round pick CeeDee Lamb to their already potent 1-2 punch of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
Ezekiel Elliott Fantasy Outlook
ADP: RB3 | 3rd Overall
The Case For:
The Cowboys offense, which already led the league in 2019 in yards per play by a fairly significant margin at 6.5 (KC was next at 6.2 and Baltimore was third at 6.1), has the potential to be the top offense in the league this season. On top of that, Zeke is remarkably consistent, as he has been a top-five RB each season he has not faced a six game suspension, that is three out of four years in the league. On a per game basis, he has finished as an RB2 or better in 52 of his 56 career games, including every game last season, and he finished as an RB1 in nine of those. Zeke is the epitome of a bell cow RB (he averages 20.9 carries a game and has 77 and 54 catches the last two seasons).
The Case Against:
The Cowboys move to Mike McCarthy as their new head coach, which could lead to a cut into Zeke’s volume. During McCarthy’s 13 seasons with the Packers, only four times did a RB surpass 250 carries (Ahman Green, Ryan Grant twice and Eddie Lacy) and you would have to go back to 2006 to find a RB to have over 45 receptions under McCarthy, when Green had 48. With all of the weapons in Dallas and a pass-first coach, look for Zeke to possibly not have as heavy of a workload as he has in years past. One other thing not in Zeke’s corner is the schedule, which looks to be tough sledding down the stretch for the Cowboys run game.
Alvin Kamara Fantasy Outlook
ADP: RB4 | 4th Overall
The Case For:
Kamara has exactly 81 receptions in each of his three seasons in the league, which offers a very stable floor for PPR. He also has as much upside as any RB, having topped 25 PPR points in just under a third of his career games (14-of-45). Despite his nine game TD drought and missing two games and part of another with a high ankle sprain, in addition to knee and back injuries that he battled throughout the year, Kamara finished as the RB9 last season. Now fully healthy and entering his contract year, Kamara will surely see a positive regression to his six TDs, considering he had scored 13 and 18 the previous two seasons.
Also helping his case, the Saints have one of the more favorable fantasy schedules for the running game this season. As long as he can stay healthy, look for Kamara to finish at least in the top-five in PPR.
The Case Against:
Kamara’s fantasy points per touch has now declined in three straight seasons, from 1.59 as a rookie, to 1.29 in 2018 and down to 0.99 last season. A large reason for that drop was due to his precipitous drop from 18 touchdowns to six last season, which he scored in three games. He failed to score a TD from Weeks 4 through 15. In addition, after he returned from his high ankle sprain in Week 10 he had 85 carries the rest of the way while Latavius Murray had 66. Even more alarming was his red zone usage dropping nearly in half, from 50 carries in 2018 to 26 last year, and inside the 10 from 34 carries in ’18 to 14 last year.
With the addition of Sanders, who gives the Saints a legit WR2, and a likely bigger role for Taysom Hill this year, Kamara could see his role decrease even further this season.
Fantasy Verdict: Ezekiel Elliott
While Kamara averages 5.4 catches per game for his career, which really sets a high floor in PPR, he averaged just over 12 carries per game last year. Elliott averages over 20 carries and will chip in at least three catches per game as well, which is volume that is hard to come by. It also gives him the edge over Kamara. His consistency makes him a valuable asset when it comes to winning your weekly matchups and locking him into your lineup, and he provides a nice ceiling as well.