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Who is this year’s Alvin Kamara?

Alvin Kamara’s rookie campaign reminded the fantasy world just how dangerous a dual-threat running back can be. He showed explosive speed and quickness in college to go with natural pass-catching ability. It obviously translated to the NFL. Kamara will be going near the middle of the first round in all fantasy drafts. Last season, the hybrid back was left sitting on the waiver wire after draft day in most leagues due to a crowded backfield with Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram. However, as the saying goes, the cream rises to the top folks.

Expectations for a repeat season may be a little unfair for Kamara. The New Orleans running back held a 6.1 yards per carry average to go with 10.1 yards per catch. That’s just silly. Kamara also managed to score in 13 of the 16 games he played in 2017. It’s unreasonable to expect a repeat performance, but fantasy owners can certainly expect the fireworks to continue this season. The only problem is, Alvin Kamara is going in the first round. He will produce, but you are going to have to pay for that production.

Who is this Year’s Alvin Kamara?

If only there were someone you could draft that could duplicate what Kamara did in his rookie season. Well, maybe not duplicate. We already discussed how insane the 2017 campaign Kamra put up was. However, there is someone who holds similar traits while being available late in drafts. A man who could rise to the top of his offense as the standout performer, while elevating your fantasy team to a league championship. That man is Nyheim Hines.

A closer look at Nyhiem Hines

A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Nyheim Hines played his college ball for the Wolfpack of North Carolina State before being drafted by the Colts this offseason. Hines speed and versatility could make him a dangerous weapon at the next level, similar to Kamara. Hines played both in the backfield and split out as a matchup nightmare at wide receiver. In 2016, Hines caught more than 71 percent of his targets while finishing second on the Wolfpack in receptions.

In 2017, Hines took over the role as North Carolina State’s featured back and ran for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Wolfpack won nine games for just the second time since 2003. Hines was the catalyst behind the Wolfpack’s successful season. In games where he ran for 50 yards or fewer, the team was 1-3. On the other hand, in games where Hines ran for over 50 yards, NC State went 8-1. As Hines went, so did the Wolfpack.

Similarities to Kamara

Nyheim Hines ran an impressive 4.38 during the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. Kamara ran a 4.56 in 2017. Hines’ speed puts him in the company of breakaway runners such as Maurice Jones-Drew and Jamaal Charles. His pass-catching took a hit last season, at least statistically, as Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren kept Hines in the backfield to use as a screen and check-down option for quarterback Ryan Finley. Hines per-catch average dropped from 12.2 yards to just 5.8 as a result, but he still has plenty of tools hidden away in his toolbox, just like Kamara.

During a Reddit AMA, Hines was asked who he modeled his game after. He replied “from the past Warrick Dunn. Present: Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. I feel our games are similar.” Even Hines himself sees the similarity between his game and Kamara’s. It goes well past the obvious. Sure, they are both running backs and they both like to go on passing routes. What makes me think that Hines will be anything like Alvin Kamara?

The 2016 Saints had a crowded backfield Kamara did not seem destined to play a large role in. Yet he did. Why? A couple of reasons. First of all, Adrian Peterson was not very good. Secondly, the Saints had a hole in their offense. They needed a hybrid offensive threat that could make keep the defense honest while also giving them headaches. This is where Alvin Kamara fit in so nicely. He was slash and go runner that filled a need that the Saints didn’t even know they had.

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If you take a trip over to Indianapolis, you will see a team with a similarly crowded backfield. The Colts seemingly already have a solid group of backs, led by Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael. What is the problem with those options? Yes, they are all stiff as a board and lack the electricity that a player like Kamara or Hines can bring to an offense. Being able to force opposing defenses to scramble is what will make Nyhiem Hines so dangerous. Why? Becuase his versatility won’t just benefit himself and his fantasy owners, it will also spread the defense, giving his teammates an easier time. Being valuable keeps you on the field, and being on the field creates opportunities. That is all a player like Hines or Kamara need. Opportunity.

Bottom Line

Nyheim Hines has proven that he has both the talent and explosiveness to score every time he touches the ball, just like Alvin Kamara. However, there is one thing that could keep Hines from reprising Kamara’s 2017 breakout campaign. That is his size. Kamara was partly successful due to his ability to break tackles in the open field standing at 5 foot 10 inches. Hines comes in at 5 foot 8 inches, weighing 197 pounds. Is this a game-changing difference? No. It could certainly impact Hines ability to run up the gut as effectively as Kamara though.

The good news is that what Nyheim Hines lacks in extra size, he makes up for in extra speed. Speed kills, and with the kind of acceleration and velocity Hines is capable off, he could be exciting to watch. Hines was the fastest running back at this years combine, has big play ability, and has the talent to break a game open on both the ground and the air. Sound like anyone familiar?

The Colts may be entering the season with Marlon Mack as their primary back, but Hines is a swiss army knife that they will quickly learn how to use. You can currently get Nyheim Hines around the 12th round in standard drafts. This is an incredible value for the upside that he can provide. Try to draft him a round earlier (with added value in PPR leagues), he just may this year’s Alvin Kamara.

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