Rise of the Satellite Back-Plus: Alvin Kamara & Christian McCaffrey

by _tim______ ·

Alvin Kamara just posted 32 PPR fantasy points. Fellow rookie satellite back, Christian McCaffrey, also posted over 20 fantasy points. Kamara and McCaffrey are electric in space, but also possess the durability to operate as primary backs when called upon. They represent the satellite back-plus prototype. Both were target magnets and offensive focal points at the college level. As a top-10 pick, McCaffrey’s success seemed inevitable in hindsight, but Kamara’s breakout was even more obvious reviewing their advanced stats, metrics and analytics player profiles.

Talent or Tendency?

The Saints have targeted running backs with 140-plus pass attempt each year since 2011. Moreover, the Saints have finished top-5 in RB receptions each season since Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans and have an astounding 400 more RB targets than the next team during that span. Meanwhile the Panthers targeted running backs just 36 times in 2016. And Carolina has been last in the NFL in RB targets since Cam Newton arrived. In the case of Christian McCaffrey, talent overrides tendency.

Stats & Metrics Christian McCaffrey Alvin Kamara
 Targets 72 49
 Receptions 54 38
 Total Yards 589 652
 Opportunity Share 48.4% 33.9%

Rightful Heir to Darren Sproles

Kamara may be Darren Sproles’ heir in New Orleans, but Christian McCaffrey, is on a Sprolesian pace with 72 targets through nine weeks. Yet, Kamara is a top-10 PPR back, not McCaffrey, despite a lower opportunity share. How? McCaffrey is last in the NFL in yards per carry running behind one of the NFL’s least effective run blocking offensive lines. Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara is operating as a key cog in one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses featuring one of league’s most efficient run blocking units.

Stats & Metrics Christian McCaffrey Alvin Kamara
 Yards Per Carry 2.9 6.0
 Yards Per Touch 5.0 6.2
 Juke Rate 16.1% 22.2%
 Production Premium +18.8% +72.6

When player efficiency meets team efficiency, you get an efficiency-gasm!