Alvin Kamara's Taysom Hill Problem

Patrick Daugherty
·12 min read



Alvin Kamara entered Week 11 with 648 yards receiving, 357 more than any other running back. He has played two games since. How many receiving yards does he have now? 646. What can Taysom Hill do for your PPR value?

Yes, Kamara has one reception for -2 yards with Hill under center, but that’s not all. Hill and his power running have also managed to tank Kamara’s rushing value, with the running back going from an All-Pro trajectory to 24/99/1 as the Saints have beaten the Falcons and Broncos by a combined score of 55-12. Hill has managed 20/93 on the ground in that timespan, scoring a ridiculous four touchdowns.

With the Saints literally facing a practice squad receiver at quarterback on Sunday, Kamara was kept under wraps as Latavius Murray dominated garbage time with 36- and eight-yard scores over the game’s final 17 minutes. Regardless of when the production has come, Murray has out-rushed Kamara 173-99 on Hill’s watch.

What exactly do we do with all this? On the one hand, two games is two games. That’s especially true when the second was a glorified exhibition because the league doesn’t care about competitive balance in the year of COVID-19. On the other, small-sample sizes are the reality of the NFL, and we now have two games worth of Kamara struggling for rushing volume and no longer being involved as a pass catcher.

Drew Brees is expected to miss at least two more starts. For fantasy, they are the final week of the regular season and Week 1 of the playoffs. Will managers get anything from former meal ticket Kamara against the Falcons and Eagles, respectively, over the next two weeks? In the receptions department, two things are probably true at once: Kamara is going to catch fewer passes, but only one in two games is a fluke. Despite his doughnut with Atlanta two weeks ago, Sunday’s rematch should bring at least 3-4 against a defense famous for coughing up RB catches. Scrambling quarterbacks tend to check down less, but this Kamara center cannot hold.

In the rushing department, the picture is less rosy. Kamara, who has ceded 10-12 weekly handles to Murray all season, now has two competitors for short-yardage carries. Hill is also a threat in the gadget touches department. Kamara’s reduced pass catching hampers his ceiling. Fewer carries cuts the heart out of his floor.

Of course, this will continue to be a run-based offense for as long as Brees is sidelined. Even though he might view this as an opportunity to get Kamara a breather heading into the postseason, coach Sean Payton knows he can’t let Kamara die on the vine. We have probably seen Kamara’s two worst games with Hill under center. We just won’t be getting his Brees best. Mid-range to low-end RB1 now feels more appropriate than weekly top three.

Five Week 12 Storylines

Austin Ekeler draws 16 targets in return from injured reserve. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport claimed Ekeler would be on a snap count against the Bills. Instead, he caught 11 passes for the second consecutive game he managed to play from start to finish. Ekeler appears capable of soaking up just as many looks from Justin Herbert as he did from Philip Rivers. It’s a PPR game changer on the verge of the fantasy playoffs, and potentially bad news for Keenan Allen’s compiling. The Chargers’ backfield has been a revolving door all season. Ekeler will cede 1B work, whether it is to Joshua Kelley, Kalen Ballage or Justin Jackson, but the 1A is fully established. Even with bye weeks functionally over, both Ekeler’s floor and upside are high enough to push for RB1 treatment going forward.

Josh Jacobs held to 7/27, departs with ankle injury. With the Raiders losing 30-6, Jacobs did not return after getting his ankle twisted up late in the third quarter. The Raiders were probably just being cautious, but it is yet another ailment for a player who popped up on the Week 12 injury report with a hip issue. Battling through all manner of maladies this season, Jacobs has rarely gotten in a full week of practice. Averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry, Jacobs has reached 100 yards on the ground only twice. Provided he can get out there, he will have an excellent shot at 100-yard day No. 3 for Week 13 against the Jets. Gang Green provides the perfect combination of bad defense and good Raiders game flow. If Jacobs can’t go, Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard and perhaps Theo Riddick will form an unsatisfactory committee.

All the Raiders’ good work comes undone in humiliating loss to Atlanta. It wasn’t just Jacobs having a bad day. Derek Carr turned the ball over not once, not twice, not three times but four. That was despite playing only three quarters because the score grew so lopsided. A popular streamer after his strong Week 11 showing vs. the Chiefs, Carr continued his bizarre 2020 trend of showing out against the defending Super Bowl champions but doing little for fantasy purposes vs. anyone else. With 11 games in the books, six of Carr’s 19 scores have come against the Chiefs. Versus the rest of the league, he has only five touchdowns over his past five starts. When he’s not turning the ball over four times in Atlanta, Carr is efficient. He is little else. It will be tempting to go back to the streaming well against the Jets. Just know that ceiling does not exist for this quarterback.

Tyreek Hill has historic effort vs. overmatched Bucs. It had been nearly a year since Hill posted a 100-yard day during the regular season until his 9/113 Week 9. Then he followed it up with an 11/102 Week 11. Then he nearly equaled that production in the first quarter in Tampa, hauling in seven passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first 15 minutes. Lord have mercy. Singling up Carlton Davis with the fastest wideout in the NFL flirted with allowing the biggest receiving performance in league history. Percolating at just the right time, Hill will close out the fantasy regular season with a plus matchup in the Broncos before a daunting postseason date with the Dolphins in Week 14.

D.J. Moore suffers non-contact ankle injury. Leaping for an inaccurate Teddy Bridgewater target, Moore came down in a heap. It was unclear whether Moore was injured on the leap or the fall. With only two minutes remaining in the Panthers’ eventual heartbreaking loss to the Vikings, it is unclear if Moore would have returned with more time on the clock. With the Panthers on bye for Week 13, it is also unclear how much of an update we will get this week. What is clear is that Moore continues to lack ceiling with Bridgewater. After being brought back to life for a season-best 7/127 with P.J. Walker last week, Moore has now been held to four catches or fewer in his past five Bridgewater starts. He’s somehow managed to reach 90 yards two times in that span, but that is not a sustainable WR2 formula.

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Five More Week 12 Storylines

Deebo Samuel has best game of his career in return from injury. Active for the first time since Week 7, Samuel turned 13 targets into 11 catches for 133 yards. The grabs matched a personal best while the yards were just one short. It was an effort the 49ers had to have with George Kittle (foot) sidelined and Brandon Aiyuk on the COVID-19 list. Samuel is doing absurd damage on manufactured touches, getting the ball behind the line of scrimmage so often he has -41 air yards over his past three appearances. That has not stopped him from generating 238 receiving yards, living up to coach Kyle Shanahan’s ambitious vision of a wideout who doesn’t actually do much receiving. Even if Aiyuk is back for next Monday’s likely shootout with the Bills, Samuel has returned himself to top-40 relevance.

Daniel Jones pops hamstring as G-Men survive Bengals. The Giants’ leading rusher went down at the end of a third quarter scramble. Jones tried to return a few plays later, but he was grabbing at the back of his right leg before the pass even reached its destination. Genuinely hobbled, Jones had the looks of a quarterback who was going to miss some action. It comes at the worst possible time in fantasy, as Jones would have been QB2 viable for Week 13 against the Seahawks. Now the G-Men will probably be forced to turn to Colt McCoy, who generated 31 yards on 10 attempts in Cincinnati. It was not because McCoy was gifted with a caretaker role with the game in hand. It was still in doubt. The career backup just isn’t very good. McCoy’s presence under center would seriously damage Darius Slayton’s Week 13 streaming appeal.

Kyler Murray has first scoreless start of 2020. The Cardinals said it wasn’t the shoulder, but it sure looked like the shoulder. Running less often than usual, Murray was also less aggressive against the blitz. He backpedaled instead of climbing the pocket. Compounding matters was Murray appearing befuddled by some of the Patriots’ pressure packages. Now in something resembling a slump, Murray has the opposite of a get-right spot in Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald’s Rams. Limited by injury in 2019, Murray was merely ordinary without his rushing threat. Fantasy managers need to avoid that same fate if Murray is to lead them deep into the playoffs. Regardless of Murray’s health, none of the Giants, Eagles or 49ers are guaranteed smash spots for the fantasy postseason, though all three have more than enough vulnerabilities to produce big Murray days.

Mitch Trubisky looks worse than ever vs. Packers, David Montgomery looks better than ever. For Trubisky, it was more of the unwatchable same as the Bears got boat raced by their bitter division rival. Three turnovers. Sub-60 percent completion percentage. Zero accuracy on deep balls. A failed experiment, Trubisky’s end feels both shockingly fast and long overdue. For Montgomery, it was a rare bright spot in a blinkered career, taking advantage of a plus matchup for just his third 100-yard day on the ground as an NFLer. Trubisky did nothing to create a quarterback controversy. Nick Foles will be back under center as soon as his hip injury is healed, likely Week 13. Montgomery kept his workload-based RB2 case alive for another plus spot in the Lions. Then the Texans’ league-worst run defense is on tap for Week 14.

Status quo holds in Patriots’ backfield. Sony Michel was active this time around. He still didn’t play. Damien Harris maintained his monopoly on early downs, out-carrying James White 14-5. 14 is a number Harris has reached in 4-of-5 contests, typically clearing 5.0 yards per carry in the process. The only downside Sunday was that he got stood up on a pair of goal-line carries, clearing the way for White to turn two pitches into scores. With bye weeks functionally over, Harris will have trouble cracking the top 24 on a weekly basis because of his nonexistent passing game usage and Cam Newton competition near the goal line, but he will be an excellent Week 13 FLEX vs. the Chargers.

Questions

1. How did the Falcons make Taysom Hill look like 2015 Cam Newton and Derek Carr look like 2020 Mitchell Trubisky?

2. Sure, “the Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes” is fun, but what about “the Bears drafted Cole Kmet instead of Chase Claypool”?

3. Why is Joe Flacco better than Sam Darnold?

Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

QB: Philip Rivers (@HOU), Kirk Cousins (vs. JAX), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. CIN), Nick Mullens (vs. BUF), Drew Lock (@KC), Andy Dalton (@BAL), Baker Mayfield (@TEN), Colt McCoy (@SEA)
RB: Frank Gore, Benny Snell, Cam Akers, Devontae Booker, Jordan Wilkins, DeAndre Washington, Anthony McFarland
WR: Jalen Reagor, Nelson Agholor, T.Y. Hilton, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Gabriel Davis, Russell Gage, Andy Isabella
TE: Jordan Reed, Dalton Schultz, Logan Thomas, Kyle Rudolph, Trey Burton, Jacob Hollister
DEF: Raiders (@NYJ), Lions (vs. CHI), Cardinals (vs. LAR), Cowboys (@BAL), Falcons (vs. NO)

Stats of the Week

Adam Levitan lays out Nick Chubb’s dominance: Chubb is currently averaging 6.25 yards per carry. The post-merger record is 6.38 from Jamaal Charles in 2010.

Via Marcas Grant: Colt McCoy scored 1.94 fantasy points. Derek Carr had 0.60.

Gabriel Davis played 99.9 of the Bills’ snaps in John Brown’s absence. Davis is quietly one of 2020’s most exciting Dynasty league holds.

Patrick Mahomes is the first player in league history with at least 30 completions for 300 yards in four straight games.

The Ringer’s Kaelen Jones with the college football fact of the week: “Ole Miss had A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf, Dawson Knox, Jordan Wilkins and Van Jefferson on the same team and went 6-6.”

Jared Goff has six interceptions and seven fumbles over his past four games.

Kendall Hinton had more interceptions than completions.

Awards Section

Week 12 Fantasy All-Pro Team: QB Deshaun Watson, RB Derrick Henry, RB Antonio Gibson, WR Tyreek Hill, WR Will Fuller, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Robert Tonyan

Tweet of the Week, from Dan Hanzus: “I dare you to run it to Gore on first down again, Adam Ga ... he did it again.”

So, Uhh, That Happened Award: Every second of Kendall Hinton’s start against the Saints.

The It’s Not A Lie If You Believe It Award, Via Warren Sharp: Adam Gase’s stunningly unconvincing denial that he was calling plays against the Dolphins.

Best Formula For Beating The Colts Award, Via The Titans: Not letting a FedEx driver disastrously shank a punt before letting the next one get blocked for a touchdown.

The And I Took That Personally Award: Aaron Rodgers against the Bears pretty much all the time.

The, Yeah, This Could Only Against Philip Rivers’ Team Award: A.J. Brown returning an onside kick for a touchdown.