As the New Orleans Saints look for running back depth, is Mike Gillislee a potential threat to Alvin Kamara’s fantasy value?
Mike Gillislee started the 2017 season with a three-touchdown game, and he followed with another score in Week 2. He had 98 carries over the first eight games, but then regularly became a healthy scratch and didn’t play again until Week 16. So it was not too surprising when the New England Patriots mad him part of their final roster cuts on Saturday.
Gillislee seems sure to land on his feet quickly, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network he’ll visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Saints only kept two running backs on their initial 53-man roster, and they’ll be without Mark Ingram for the first four games as he serves a suspension.
If nothing else, Gillislee would be a good complement to Kamara as a power runner and goal line guy while Ingram is unavailable. But should Kamara’s owners be on vulture alert?
Kamara had 25 red zone carries last year, which was good for a 35 percent share of the Saints; red zone carries. Ingram had 33 red zone carries, which accounted for a 46 percent share (h/t to Football Diehards). While Kamara should take on some more red zone work, the rest of Ingram’s share is available over the first month of the season.
Of Gillislee’s 13 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons, 12 have come from inside the five-yard line on a combined total of 18 carries from that range. That creates the potential for a significant touchdown vulture, no matter what team he signs with.
Kamara is a top 5-to-10 pick in fantasy drafts, and he’s even considered a candidate to go No. 1 overall by high-end optimists. A repeat of last year’s efficiency and big plays is unlikely, but that regression is being offset by the likelihood of a bigger workload.
If Gillislee signs with the Saints it’s most likely short-term proposition, and he may be seeking (and be able to find) an opportunity to contribute to a team beyond Week 4. While he wouldn’t torpedo Kamara’s fantasy prospects upon landing with New Orleans, Gillislee could siphon a fair amount of value from one of last year’s breakout fantasy stars.