Written by: George Haraktsis
Former Heisman winner Mark Ingram has finally left the only NFL team he’s ever known and signed a three-year $15.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens to presumably carry the workload in that backfield. Ingram was no joke in New Orleans though, helped lead one of the NFL’s best running back tandems under Sean Payton.He now joins a historically run-heavy team, with a quarterback who led one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL last season. Now as training camp approaches, we ask ourselves as fantasy owners...can he replicate the same success he had for the Saints? Or will he fizzle out in a Ravens uniform? What could Mark Ingram’s 2019 look like?
In a perfect world, and this will most likely happen, Ingram will establish himself as the Baltimore Ravens starting running back to open the season.
His combination of efficiency and production has made him one of the most consistent fantasy running backs over the last 5 years. His 4.85 yards per rush only trails Alvin Kamaras 5.13 yards in a pool of 47 backs with at least 300 attempts since 2015. He also has the benefit of having experience without all of the usual wear and tears a back of his age usually has on their bodies. Ingram has never had more than 230 carries in a single NFL season-he’s relatively “fresh”.
Ingram is now joining a team led by Lamar Jackson. You can say a lot of things about Lamar Jackson, but saying he’s a seasoned and skilled passer is usually not one of them. That being said, he does help the running game even without making a huge impact through the air. Last year Jackson led a rushing attack that averaged an absolutely absurd 230 rushing yards per game with 150 of those yards coming from their halfbacks.
Now, what does this all mean?
It means that Ingram has a real shot at finishing 2019 as a legitimate RB1 in .5 PPRs.
Ingram was not signed to ride the pine. With no real pass-catching option out of the backfield, Ingram will lock down those duties. He does have competition in the backfield, but if he can steal away job and avoid a three-headed monster in Baltimore, Ingram has a chance at a huge season in an offense with so much running potential. Ingram could quietly have a similar season to that of Justin Forsett’s back in 2014-If all goes well, he lives up to his potential, and the Ravens hold up their end of the bargain, it could be even better. That’s over 1500 total yards and double-digit touchdowns. Now that’s serious value in rounds 4-5.
I think at this point you’ve realized that my belief is that Ingram is one of the safest players in this draft at his position.
BUT. Not a single fantasy player comes without some sort of risk.
The most obvious risk, just like with any player, is injury. Ingram could have a freak injury that could derail his season. So let’s get that out of the way.
He has plenty of red flags that could work against him too though. By the time this season ends, Mark Ingram will be 30 years old and that number is a scary one to approach as a running back. Because as we all know, RBs tend to take a dip after age 30.
Ingram is also surrounded by a plethora of talented young backs. Gus “The Bus” Edwards ended last year on a high note, Kenneth Dixon is a highly talented back the team has kept around through injuries and suspensions, and the Ravens just drafted former Oklahoma State Cowboy Justice Hill. If Ingram sputters out of the gate, Harbaugh will not hesitate to replace him with one of the players from his stable of running backs. Thus muddling Ingram's chance at production!
Lamar Jackson has not shown us that he is an above-average passer in this league yet. I mentioned before that the lack of talent in the passing game could benefit Ingram, due to the team’s willingness to run because of Jackson's skill set. But it could also seriously hurt him. If teams do realize all Baltimore can do is run the ball, and Jackson has not taken the next step, then Ingram could be looking at 8-man boxes all year leading to a serious decrease in production.
If all of this or some sort of combination occurs, Ingram may not actually be a value where you end up drafting him.
No one likes being realistic but here we are. In my eyes this is really just Mark Ingrams floor. There could be a situation where Lamar Jackson is not able to take that step forward, but Ingram is still able to put up serviceable numbers.
There's a world where Ingram does split carries, but is effective in this role just like he was when he was in New Orleans.
There’s also a universe where the team runs the ball a lot less, because the team is forcing the ball into Lamar Jackson’s hands, but Ingram is efficient enough to be a serviceable RB2.
Like we said earlier, in a realistic world, Ingram will likely fall in the middle of these two situations. Somewhere along the lines of 1200 total yards and 7 touchdowns. That would be wonderful production out of your RB in the 5th round. Don’t sleep!
Bottom line: Do not reach for Mark Ingram. The best part about him is his value, you’re getting an high-end RB2 int the 4th-5th round of this years draft. Which will allow you to sure up other positions around your roster, Draft but don’t reach for good ole Mark.