1 Vs 1 Rookie RB Edition: Alvin Kamara Vs Christian McCaffrey
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted rookie running backs putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as 2017 stats, quality of offensive line, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, teams time of possession, percentage of rushing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two incredible rookie runningbacks in the Saints Alvin Kamara and the Panthers Christian McCaffrey, both enjoyed phenomenal rookie campaigns. The explosive pair were catalysts for their teams offense in 2017, and were instrumental in assisting their teams in making the playoffs.
Both rookie runningbacks had themselves very impressive 2017 regular seasons, especially considering they weren't used in a traditional runningback role. Kamara only rushed 120 times but managed 728 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging an insane 6.1 yards per carry, adding 81 receptions on 100 targets for 826 yards and 5 touchdowns for an 10.2 yards per reception average. McCaffrey rushed 117 times for 435 yards and 2 touchdowns averaging 3.7 yards per carry, adding 80 receptions on 113 targets for 651 yards and 5 touchdowns averaging 8.2 yards per reception. Kamara was PFF's 2nd ranked runningback with a grade of 89.9, McCaffrey was the 11th overall among runningbacks with an impressive 83.4 grade. I have Kamara as my 7th ranked runningback and Hunt as my 11th ranked dynasty runningback. Advantage: Kamara
A big part of running back success is tied to the quality of a teams offensive line, as we have seen time and time again a mid level running back with a top tier offensive line can have comparable stats with a much better running back with a questionable offensive line. In 2017 New Orleans graded out as the 2nd overall offensive line, averaging 5.20 runningback yards per attempt and a 68% power run success rate. Carolina had the 23rd graded offensive line, and averaged 3.66 runningback yards per attempt with a 73% power run success rate. The Saints possessed the ball on an average of 31:14 per game last season, and rushed on 44.37% of offensive plays,. The Panthers possessed the ball 32:45 per game rushing 48.24% of offensive plays last season. Both of these runningbacks were used in a variety of creative ways and lined up in the slot on a regular basis, another thing they had in common was splitting carries with an established veteran back. Although it would be interesting to see either back as the unquestioned three down workhorse, I don't beleive that either possess a large enough frame to withstand every down punishment at the NFL level. Advantage Kamara
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, there are a lot of similarities between these two talented rookies. Kamara is the bigger of the two runningbacks, as he is listed at 5'10, 212 pounds, to CMC's diminutive 5'10, 201 pounds. Kamara came out ahead in two of three major combine events, the broad jump, 131” to McCaffrey's 121”, and also had an edge in the vert out jumping Mccaffrey 39.5” to 37.5”. Kamara ran a 4.56, 40, which was a touch slower than McCaffrey's 4.48, 40 time. They are essentially the same age as they were both born in 1996 with less than three weeks separating them in age. These two had different paths to the NFL and much different draft weekend experiences, as McCaffrey was selected with the 8h pick of the 1nd round, 8th overall in 2017, after a successful and well decorated college career at Stanford. Kamara was a day two draft pick as he was selected out of Tennessee in the 3rd round, with the 3rd pick, 67th overall also in the 2017 NFL draft, the Saints paid a premium to move up and select him. Advantage: McCaffrey
McCaffrey had a significant advantage in snaps played, playing 746 snaps, 41 of which he was required to pass protect, he posted a 42.6 grade in pass blocking. Kamara played 466 snaps, only 11 of which were in pass protection, he was given a 57.0 pass blocking grade from PFF. Kamara doesn't have any long term competition for touches currently on the depth chart, as it seems unlikely Mark Ingram is back next season which essentially leaves wild card Jonathan Williams being the only real threats to take a few touches away. In Carolina McCaffrey has the backfield to himself for the time being as Jonathan Stewarthas been cut. Advantage: McCaffrey
You really can't go wrong with either of these two PPR studs, it really comes down to which offense you trust more or which runningback you see playing a more traditional three down role. I really liked both of these two coming out of college and as it stands right now New Orleans may have landed the best bargain of the draft in Kamara. If either of these two are ever to log 300 plus touches I just can't imagine it being McCaffrey as he is just so much smaller than the traditional three down runningbacks. It was a very close comparison for me but I have to give the edge to Alvin Kamara, that was a truly special rookie season, he looked absolutely incredible as a runner, a receiver, and a returner. If I had to vote for offensive rookie of the year it would be between Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara, likely choosing Kamara. Winner: Kamara