Why Are the Saints Not Throwing Alvin Kamara the Ball This Year?

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is on pace for a career-low in receptions this season.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is on pace for a career-low in receptions this season. / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you're a New Orleans Saints fan, a futures bettor, or a fantasy football player that's invested in Alvin Kamara this year, many of you are likely thinking the same thing collectively:

"When is Kamara going to start catching the dang ball?"

Kamara began his NFL career with three consecutive seasons of catching 81 passes. In 2020, he set a career-high... of 83. He's never played less than 14 games in an NFL season, making his projection of 80+ receptions each season almost automatic.

In 2021, Kamara remains one of the league's best running backs, currently ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yards. But with a new quarterback in Jameis Winston, the fifth-year back out of Tennessee is on pace for the lowest reception total of his career. Through his first three games, Kamara has only been targeted 14 times. After three games in 2020, he had 31.

Last week didn't help either. In the Saints' Week 4 home loss to the New York Giants, Kamara had zero targets for the first time in his career; rushing for 120 yards on 26 carries.

Do the Oddsmakers Still Believe in the Saints to Contend this Year?

Right now, the oddsmakers at WynnBET still give the Saints a chance to get to the postseason and potentially cause damage. Heck, even Winston saw his MVP numbers move all the way up to +2000 after their Week 1 blowout vs. the Packers.

Currently, WynnBET has the Saints at +1500 to win the NFC, seventh on the list (indicating they should be the last playoff team in), and +4000 to win the Super Bowl. They still rank ahead of the Carolina Panthers in the division (+450 to +1000), who have a better overall record at 3-1 compared to New Orleans at 2-2, and are projected to win nine games, the same number as at the beginning of the season.

Bet on Kamara to See More Targets in the Passing Game

Right now, Kamara has just 10 receptions on 14 targets through the first four games of the season. If this rate continues, he'd fall from 83 receptions in 2020, to just 42.5 in 2021.

Don't expect that low rate to continue.

This week, Saints head coach Sean Payton shared with the media that Kamara's role became different with the injury to backup running back Tony Jones.

Plus, heading into Week 4, Kamara was still leading the way amongst running backs in overall target share. He no longer is in the mix after not seeing one target in Week 4, but a one-game sample shouldn't rule him out for the rest of the season.

The primary difference between last year and this year is the blow-up game. In Week 3 of last year, Kamara saw 14 targets, the same amount he has all of 2021. The Saints are also passing much less on a per-game basis through the first near-quarter of the season, with Winston ranking 30th amongst all quarterbacks.

Kamara may not get to that almost-guaranteed 80 reception mark like in years past, but all it takes is one massive game and he could be right back on pace for his usual back-of-the-football-card number.

New Orleans travels to Washington this week to play the Football Team as 1.5-point road favorites. The total is listed at just 44 points.

Think Alvin Kamara and the Saints get rolling this week? Grab them before the lines move at WynnBET!

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