New Orleans is Value City, Subtitle: Don’t Sleep on Mark Ingram

by Richard Jenkins ·

Driving down Narrative Street following the NFL Draft can be full of overreactions. One of the most popular overreactions following day 2 of the draft was “Sean Payton hates Mark Ingram.” Ingram, coming off his best statistical season in 2016 where he has benched (twice!) for Tim Hightower, was primed for a career year in 2017. The fantasy community was also buying as Ingram had an ADP of 29.07 (RB12) on MyFantasyLeague prior to the draft. Sure the Saints signed Adrian Peterson just days before selecting scat back Alvin Kamara in the third round, but that’s no reason to completely fold on the former Heisman Trophy winner. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Mark Ingram, The Player

Mark Ingram, drafted No. 28 overall in 2011, played sparingly in his first 3 seasons. In the 37 games he played, only 12 as the starting running back, he rushed for 1,462 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ingram also hauled in 24 receptions for 143 yards. In 2014, however, Ingram was tasked as the lead back and continued to produce results:

*Selected to Pro Bowl in 2014

Running Back PPR Rankings:

    • 2014- RB-15
    • 2015- RB-11
    • 2016- RB-8

Mark Ingram has been profiling as a low RB1 in PPR leagues. With Drew Brees still at the helm, the Saints will continue to run that high powered offense that has landed New Orleans in the top-12 in fantasy points per game every year since 2008. Ingram will continue to reap the benefits of the New Orleans Saints high-octane offensive machine.

Mark Ingram Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Durability is certainly a concern as Mark Ingram only played a full 16 game season twice in his six years in the league (2012, 2016).

New Orleans Backfield Role Distribution

At first glance the Saints’ backfield appears to be muddy with no clear answer as to who will receive the touches. The current depth chart looks like this:

    1. Mark Ingram
    2. Adrian Peterson
    3. Alvin Kamara
    4. Travaris Cadet
    5. Daniel Lasco
    6. Marcus Murphy

The competition for touches will clearly be between Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, and Alvin Kamara. Most fantasy owners will stray away from running racks who are a part of a committee, because it’s hard to determine who will get the opportunities. With Kamara likely to fill the “Darren Sproles role” in the offense, Ingram and Peterson must vie for the remaining touches. While that sounds unappealing to fantasy owners to have a member of a 3 back system, it’s really nothing new pertaining to the Saints running backs:

Ingram’s workout metrics don’t exactly jump off the page. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash (36th-percentile), 94.4 Speed Score (38th-percentile), 11.75 Agility Score (11th-percentile) and a 96.6 SPARQ-x Score (13th-percentile).

In 2016, the Saints posted a score of 140.6 in run blocking on, ranking them No. 1 for the season. Ingram has received the most fantasy relevant touches for the backs. Despite only being on the field for 49.4 percent of snaps, he was one of the most efficient and productive players in the league. Ingram had 37 RZ carries (No .11), 58 targets (No. 12), 9 breakaway runs (No. 15), and averaged 15 fantasy points per game (No. 10).

The Adrian Peterson Effect

The big questions surrounding the Saints backfield is exactly how much Adrian Peterson will eat into Ingram’s workload. The 2012 version of Peterson had one of the best seasons for a running back in NFL history, rushing for 2097 yards and 12 touchdowns. However the Peterson we have witnessed lately has yet to live up to that historic season. He has missed almost the entire season in both 2014 and 2016, and has only crossed the 100 yards threshold only twice in the last 10 games he played. While it’s unclear how many touches Peterson will actually get, it would be hard to imagine him receiving a 50-50 timeshare with Mark Ingram. Sean Payton has been quoted saying that Peterson’s role will be “very clear and defined” and he will be “able to compliment Mark.” Last season, Tim Hightower had 155 touches in the compliment role to Ingram.

 Buy or Sell?

Mark Ingram’s price is falling quickly as a result of Peterson and Kamara. Even with these additions I have no reason to expect a drop off in Ingram’s production. A fantasy RB1 season is still a very real expectation. Ingram’s ADP is in free fall following the NFL Draft, falling to 47.5 (RB19) on and is headed lower. I will be sending out many trade offers this offseason to catch owners who are down on him. He is a dynasty buy for me.