Former first-round pick Mark Ingram has had a great career. The 31-year old running back has three 1000 yard rushing season to his name and multiple seasons with double-digit touchdowns. After a long career with the Saints, Ingram signed with the Ravens, contributing to one of the most dynamic run-first teams in the league. However, Ingram’s age, Raven’s rookie running back J.K. Dobbins, and dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson limit his ceiling for touchdowns and carries. Because of this, I see Ingram as a borderline number two running back in most leagues.
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Mark Ingram had a stellar first season for the Ravens in 2019. The bruising power back finished with 1018 rushing yards for 10 rushing touchdowns. In the passing game, Ingram finished with 26 receptions for 247 yards and 5 touchdowns. In fantasy leagues, he finished with 232 points for an average of 14.5 yards per game. In total, Ingram finished eighth among fellow running backs in fantasy points after only having two games with more than 15 carries.
What’s impressive about Mark Ingram is that, despite his bruising play style, he rushed for nearly 5 yards per carry. At age 31, these are remarkable states. I could see Ingram continue to produce at this level into his mid-30s. He looked nearly unstoppable when given the opportunity.
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While Ingram had a great 2019 season, I think his 2020 production could be stifled given the running back situation. In the 2020 draft, the Ravens selected running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round. Their hope is that spending a year or two behind Ingram will let Dobbins prepare for his turn to lead the running backs group. The Ravens also have a third viable running back in Gus Edwards. Adding in dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens designed QB draws, Mark Ingram’s carries and subsequent production should decline.
Lineups agrees projecting the running to finish with 901 yards rushing for eight rushing touchdowns, and 24 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns. While not a severe drop-off, it is enough to push Mark Ingram behind guys like Josh Jacobs and Joe Mixon.
Fantasy nightmare in Baltimore.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) April 25, 2020
ADP: 45.2 RB: 18
Auction Value: $17
Ingram currently has an average draft position of 45.2 and is the current 18th rank running back. Essentially, fantasy owners did not buy into the hype of last season. Instead, they recognize that the receiver is past 30, which for a running back besides Frank Gore is particularly risky. Also, Lamar Jackson acted as the teams RB1 with 4 games above 15 carries, two more than Mark Ingram, and six games above 100 yards in 2019. Fantasy owners recognize that Ingram will be RB2 and possibly RB3 if J.K. Dobbins emerges. Any higher ADP is just too risky for fantasy owners.
Mark Ingram has a low floor. He suffers from injuries, only playing four complete seasons out of nine. With his age, Ingram is likely to miss more time with injury.
Also, Ingram’s receiving game is limited. He’s a prototypical running back, one that bruises opposing defenses with 4 yard carries down the middle. While other running backs earn fantasy points in the passing game, Ingram is limited to producing more in rushing categories. With his RB2 status on the team, Ingram has to have greater yards per carry than most running backs, limiting his viability.
While 31-years old, Mark Ingram showed that he still has juice in the tank. While often injured, these non-chronic injuries could be the best thing for his longevity as he’s finished seasons with lower carries than the average running back. For example, Ingram has finished seasons with 78, 122, 138, and 156 carries, well short of the average 200+ of typical starting running backs. His age says 31, but his carries paint a different picture, one where the running back could have more juice in the tank.
If the Ravens can establish the running game and early leads as they did last year, they can control the clock in late games via the run. This is where Ingram becomes even more valuable. In the third and fourth quarters, the Ravens can hand the ball to Ingram who will use his size to demoralize opposing defenses.
As mentioned, the Ravens offense is built around the run game. Lamar Jackson utilizes his legs more than his arm. The Ravens have three viable running backs, all of which could be RB1’s on their respective teams. With such an offense, you expect Ingram to get carries. However, that did not happen. In 2019, Ingram failed to touch 20 carries in a single game. With only two viable running backs on the roster in 2019, I expect three to limit his game even further.
Also, J.K. Dobbins was a top-three running back in the 2020 draft. Adding him in the second round signals that the Ravens plan on Dobbins to have a big role in 2020. I expect this to come at the expense of Ingram’s more outdated style of running. Nowadays, teams love versatile running backs that can catch out of the backfield and run side to side on halfback stretches. This philosophy could also diminish his role.
Strength of Schedule
The Ravens play terrible run defenses within their own division including the worst-ranked run defense in 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the third-worst run defense in 2019, the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens also have easy matchups against other bottom 10 run defenses including the Chiefs, Texans, and Jaguars. These seven games provide tremendous opportunities for the Ravens to establish the run which could lead to more touches for Ingram. However, it could also lead to more touches for other running backs. While they have a stretch against tough run defenses, the combination of varying running styles should help the Ravens provide different looks within their rushing schemes.
Ingram is a great downfield running back who can be trusted to get yards when needed. However, the Ravens roster configuration leads me to worry about his carries as a RB2 and its subsequent impact in fantasy leagues. At an ADP of 45.2, most fantasy owners agree. If he falls to the 50s in leagues, I would not hesitate to draft the Ingram as an RB3. He has been consistent when he plays, where not every running back can say the same.