Fantasy Football Free Agency: Mark Ingram’s value revived with the Ravens

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While the rest of the NFL is trending toward aggressive, wide-open offenses that throw the ball all over the place, the Ravens found success last season running the ball and keeping things conservative. Thanks to Lamar Jackson’s rushing prowess (and threat to run in RPOs), the Ravens finished second in the league in rushing (152.6 yards per game), third in rushing touchdowns (19) and found a spot in the playoffs. The approach worked so well that they doubled-down on it by promoting notoriously run-heavy play caller Greg Roman to offensive coordinator.

Anyone running the ball in such a situation would be good for Fantasy. Having Mark Ingram do it is great.

Ingram is a hard-charger with underrated receiving skills. He’s averaged at least 4.6 yards per carry in each of his last four seasons, delivered a minimum of six rushing touchdowns in his last five seasons, ran for over 1,000 yards in two of his last three seasons and totaled 10 or more scores in two of his last three seasons. People forget how good he’s been.

He’ll spearhead the Ravens’ backfield and should be in line for over 15 touches per game, many of them carries. Maybe that concerns you because Ingram is 29 years old and has 1,600 career total touches, but he eclipsed 15 touches just four times last year and amassed 156 carries and 25 catches in 14 games. You’d have to go back to 2013 to find a season where he had under 200 touches.

Aside from age, the only significant knocks on Ingram are his fumbles and his quarterback finding him in the passing game. Ingram coughed up the rock six times in the past two seasons (maybe that’s why he’s not a Saint anymore) and could always get benched by John Harbaugh for too many giveaways. Then again, if the Ravens do not improve their backfield beyond Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon, it’s safe to say Ingram has some leash.

As for the quarterback, Jackson threw to his running backs 28 times on 199 pass attempts last year, good for 20 receptions and 175 scoreless yards. It’s not much and would take a fundamental change in how he operates for that number to vastly improve. 

Outside of these factors, the normally durable Ingram is a candidate for as many as 240 carries and 25 receptions in 2019, including work at the goal line. Given his four-year low in rushing average of 4.6 yards per carry and the Ravens 5.3-yard rushing average with Jackson under center last season, it’s far from loony to think Ingram can keep up that same 4.6 average in Baltimore. On 240 carries, that nets him 1,104 yards. Tack on a conservative 6.0 yards per reception (which would be lower than anything he’s has in New Orleans since 2015, but this is the Ravens we’re talking about) and he’s up to 1,254 total yards. Not bad.

Touchdowns figure to be an issue since he’ll have the ball get pulled out of his reach by Jackson on many zone-reads. Because he’s notched at least six in each of his last five seasons, that’s a very safe floor for him. But check out the Ravens’ schedule and consider that he’s got a chance to score as many as nine times.

Let’s stay cautious and project him for 1,254 total yards and six scores. It’s about on par with Jordan Howard’s 1,080-total-yard, nine-score, 20-catch season from last year, which was good enough to finish as a top-20 back in all formats in 2018.

Does he have top-20 potential? Definitely. Do you have to draft him among the top 20 running backs on Draft Day? Definitely not! Ingram should round into a last-of-the-decent-starting running backs to take on Draft Day, right around 50th overall in non-PPR and 65th overall in PPR. He’s a fabulous choice for Zero-RB strategists and even a good one-year stop-gap for rushing-needy Dynasty league owners.

Categories: National Sports

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