by Ray Kuhn
For the rest of 2014, Mark Ingram is a borderline RB1. There I said it.
Yes I know we are talking about the same Mark Ingram who, after three NFL seasons, entered 2014 with 1,462 yards. I am also aware that the Saints offense, led by Drew Brees and Sean Payton, is not the same prolific and explosive offense we had grown accustomed to over the past few seasons.
When Denard Robinson being on a bye has an impact on every fantasy league, that says all you need to know about what we are dealing with regarding running backs at this point in the season.
So is it really that crazy to say that, at worst, there will be 11 running backs better than Ingram for the rest of the season?
I mean Robinson is still listed as a wide receiver in some leagues and was a quarterback in college. Ingram at least is a legitimate running back who was a highly regarded first round draft choice out of Alabama. Perhaps more importantly, Ingram is currently “the guy” in New Orleans’ backfield and he is not showing any signs of relinquishing that role with three consecutive 100-plus yard games.
Entering the season there was some buzz surrounding Ingram as he entered a contract year. Darren Sproles was in Philadelphia and someone needed to replace that production. Pierre Thomas was returning, but there was still an opportunity for Ingram to succeed despite coming off a season where he gained just 386 yards on 78 carries.
Ingram got the season started off the right way gaining 143 yards on the ground (24 carries) with three touchdowns while also catching four passes for another 22 yards in the first two games. Things were certainly looking up for the running back prior to injuring his shoulder.
While Ingram was out, Thomas had a role, Khiry Robinson stepped up and Tavoris Cadet also became a factor, but no one ran away with the job. In six games this season Thomas has gained just 133 yards on 30 carries, so I would not consider him to be a threat to Ingram’s carry total once he returns. Robinson, on the other hand, has had success carrying the ball 64 times for 330 yards in six games, but I don’t think there is enough there to send Ingram to bench. The status of both backs, they have been out the past few weeks due to injury, is unclear for Week 11, but it’s hard to imagine Payton going away from what has been working.
And looking at Ingram’s stat lines for each of the past three weeks is all the proof you need:
- Week 8 – vs. Green Bay – 24 carries, 172 yards, TD
- Week 9 – at Carolina – 30 carries, 100 yards, 2 TD
- Week 10 – vs. San Francisco – 27 carries, 120 yards
For those of you looking forward, and especially towards the playoffs, the case for Ingram only gains momentum.
- Week 11 – vs. Cincinnati
- Week 12 – vs. Baltimore
- Week 13 – at Pittsburgh
- Week 14 – vs. Carolina
- Week 15 – at Chicago
- Week 16 – vs. Atlanta
Currently Ingram is combining all of the factors you look for in a running back when forecasting success. He has the job, he has talent, he is riding a recent stretch of success and his schedule is very favorable. As you set your team up for the playoffs, Ingram is certainly a running back you should be targeting.