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There was a lot happening in the Monday Night Football game last night. Drew Brees was out there breaking records, Adrian Peterson dislocated a shoulder, Tre’Quan Smith became a thing, and apparently there was someone live painting the game or something.
In the midst of all of that, Mark Ingram came back from suspension and proceeded to put up 20.3 fantasy points. Alvin Kamara owners in season-long and single-game slates are waking up feeling like
What are we supposed to make of all this? We need some context and analysis around this (very small) sample to see if we can determine whether it is representative of what we will see moving forward.
Monday Night Stats:
|SNAPS||CARRIES||RUSH YDS||YPC||TARGETS||CATCHES||REC YDS||TDs|
Ingram doubled up Kamara on touches 18-9 despite a relatively even snap count, but I have a suspicion there were some other factors at play. First, Ingram was completely fresh. He hasn’t endured four weeks of bruising hits on his body so he was ready to lead the workload when called upon. In addition, the game script didn’t call for Kamara’s special set of skills. By the 3:43 mark of the second quarter, the Saints were leading 20-6 and it was probably clear to the New Orleans coaches that this would not be a script where much passing was needed. In fact, after the record-setting 62-yard touchdown to Smith in the second quarter, there wasn’t much need to pass at all. Brees amassed 242 yards passing the first half to only 121 in the second – exactly 50% less.
We should remember that Kamara was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday due to a knee injury. With a fresh back available and a run-heavy game script materializing, there wasn’t much need to push Kamara on Monday night. If Kamara truly was limited with an injury, there was also no need to have him out there against a Redskins team that is a top ten bottom FanDuel points allowed to opposing running backs, according to Pro Football Reference.
In 2017, despite sharing the workload for the majority of the season, both Kamara and Ingram were top-6 running backs in half-point per reception scoring. It would be foolish not to expect Sean Payton to continue using both on an equitable basis. Game scripts moving forward, and improved health for Kamara, should lead to him getting more involved than he was against the Redskins. In the coming weeks, the Saints have games against the Vikings, Rams, Bengals, Eagles, Bucs, Falcons, Steelers, and Panthers (twice). Each of these teams averages more than 20 points per game and six of those eight teams average more than 26 ppg. There is some scoring coming in these games. We have already seen this season that the Saints don’t mind getting into some shootouts so these 43-19 games should be the exception rather than the rule.
Perhaps the point of this analysis is just a simple reminder to not trust small samples. It was one game with several uncommon characteristics. I anticipate we continue to see the Saints roll out two top-12 running backs for the balance of the season.