Alvin Kamara has been suspended for the first three games of the 2023 NFL season.
While Kamara will be serving his time, the Saints will be squaring up with the Tennesee Titans, Carolina Panthers, and the Green Bay Packers.
That is a soft opening schedule with plenty of opportunity for positive game scripts leading to increased opportunities in the ground game.
Jamaal Williams is fresh off his career year with the Detroit Lions and signed a three-year contract with the Saints in free agency. In 2022, Williams scored 206.7 fantasy points (PPR) but did so primarily on heavy usage in the red-zone (53 opportunities), especially at the goal line. He finished the year with over 1,000 yards rushing and 17 rushing touchdowns.
As far as opportunity and efficiency, Williams scored 1.03 fantasy points over expectation and averaged 0.79 fantasy points per opportunity. Still, Williams was far from the most efficient back and benefitted a lot from one-yard dives into the end zone.
On the season, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry and was able to handle a heavy workload (262 rush attempts). Still, with only 12 receptions on the season, he offered little to no receiving game upside and became almost entirely dependent on goal-line scores.
As the The Wolf’s RB47 on the year, Williams presents good value, especially with Kamara off the field… but is he the best value in the backfield?
- “I think he’s still learning, but you see the talent – you see the athletic ability”
- “He’s got really good feet, he does a really good job of catching the ball out of the backfield.”
- “I think his balance, his contact balance is exceptional”
- “I like what I’ve seen out of him – he’s gotta continue to work and progress, but he’s heading in the right direction.”
Miller, who averaged 6.7 YPC in college, is a strong, hard-to-bring-down bruiser who doesn’t shy away from contact. However, he is far from your stereotypical plodder. His 5’11” 215 lb. frame allows him to thrive through contact but he also displays strong lateral agility, which allows him to glide through the crowd at the line of scrimmage.
On tape, Miller displayed good vision, strong contact balance, and more than enough speed to be able to rip off chunk yardage and take runs to the house. In fact, in 2022, he ranked tied for 18th in college football with 21 carries of 15-plus yards and was tied for 21st with 70 missed tackles forced.
“Kendre Miller unleashed an impressive run on an inside handoff early in practice. The rookie made a quick cut inside and was off to the races. He has flashed consistently throughout the early phases of camp in all areas of the game,” wrote Saints insider Nick Underhill.
Underhill also noted how Kamara has served as a mentor of sorts to Miller, who hasn’t shied away from comparing himself to Kamara.
“How they use [ Kamara] is kind of unique, and watching film every day, we watch a bunch of clips of him,” Miller said, via the team’s website. “How they use him in the pass game, that’s pretty cool. I feel like I can step in and pretty much do the same thing.”
In college, he posted an elite 119.9 elusive rating and also produced an elite 3.64 YAC/att. and drips in week-winning upside in Kamara’s stead.
As the Wolf’s RB44 (+6 vs ECR), Miller still presents tremendous value.