Saints Re-sign Mark Ingram
Despite New Orleans’ extremely shaky salary cap situation, the team clearly felt that it needed to prioritize its 2011 first-round investment.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract this past season, Ingram was looking to shake the “bust” label. In three previous seasons, he had amassed 384 carries, 1,608 yards (4.2 YPC) and 12 touchdowns on the ground and wasn’t much of a factor in the passing game, adding 143 yards on 24 receptions. He had missed 11 games due to injury during the span and was often utilized in a situational role.
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Of course, Ingram’s 2014 breakout wasn’t entirely a surprise to those who watched him down the stretch in 2013. He racked up 249 yards on 44 carries (5.7 YPC) over the team’s final four games, including Wild Card win in which he all but single-handedly put Philadelphia away in the second half.
Although Ingram again missed a handful of games this past season, he was extremely effective when on the field. The 5’9/215 bowling ball played a career-high 42 percent of New Orleans snaps and handled a hefty 69 percent of the team’s carries when active. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry over 226 carries and scored nine times thanks to a league-high 10.1 rushing OTD. Ingram was a workhorse at the goal line, registering a league-high eight carries from the opponent’s 1 yard line and 20 within 5 yards. A better pass-catcher than many realize, Ingram hauled in 29 of 30 targets (97 percent) for 145 yards. Despite the trio of missed games, Ingram was fantasy’s 15th-ranked running back and was 10th in fantasy points per game.
Looking forward, Ingram enters 2015 as the clear lead back in New Orleans’ high-scoring offense. As noted, he’s an important part of the team’s goal line offense and will thus be a candidate to eclipse 10 touchdowns. Of course, there are drawbacks to making Ingram your No. 1 fantasy running back. Health remains a concern, as he’s now missed at least three games in three of his four seasons. Additionally, although Ingram was a workhorse down the stretch last season, Sean Payton has a lengthy history of rotating his backs. Khiry Robinson is going to get a half dozen or so carries per game (he missed a majority of the second half of last season) and the team will utilize a primary passing-down back. Who that is remains unknown (Pierre Thomas was released and Travaris Cadet wasn’t tendered), but it’s a situation to monitor as that player figures to settle in as a RB3 in PPR leagues.
My early 2015 16-game Ingram projection is 245 carries, 1,027 yards, 27 receptions, 206 yards and 11 offensive touchdowns. That makes him a decent RB2 option with a little bit less appeal in PPR formats.
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL