It’s Week 5 of the NFL season, which means fantasy football owners are welcoming back the players who dealt with four-game suspensions they had stashed on their bench. One of the biggest names from that group is New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, who finds himself entering an interesting situation.
For most players coming off a suspension, it’s hit-or-miss as to whether or not you’d start them in fantasy. But Ingram had an excellent 2017 season and is expected to play a solid role in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. So, what’s the concern? In the eyes of many, it’s the player Ingram shares the backfield with, second-year pro Alvin Kamara.
While there have been nothing but rave reviews about Kamara to this point, when diving a bit deeper, there’s reason for optimism when it comes to Ingram’s fantasy outlook. Even going beyond just his Week 5 Monday Night Football matchup with the Washington Redskins.
Mark Ingram’s Week 5 Fantasy Football Outlook
Let me first say that I’m a big fan of playing into situations when it comes to fantasy football. With Ingram’s first game back coming on a national stage in front of a rowdy home crowd, it gives him at least some level of a boost in value.
With that said, I’d never make a full decision on whether to start or sit a player based on the fact they’re playing under the lights.
When looking at the matchup for Ingram, it’s about as neutral as it gets on the surface. In ESPN scoring, the Redskins rank No. 17 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. They’ve given up 250 yards and two touchdowns on 52 attempts, as well as 22 catches for 127 yards to the position, although that’s only through three games (bye week).
But what stands out is the fact that the Redskins are allowing 4.8 yards per carry, but pass-catching backs haven’t had much success against them. And it’s not as though Washington has faced players who can’t catch passes out of the backfield this season. Over the three-week span, they’ve drawn David Johnson, Nyheim Hines and a Packers offense which features pass-catching backs such as Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams.
In short, this matchup actually may benefit Ingram, although we know Kamara has the upside to be matchup proof as a pass-catcher. Fortunately, we saw the two coexist last season and thrive, so why can’t it happen again?
Should You Start or Sit Mark Ingram?
Ingram tallied 1,124 rushing yards, 416 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Even with Kamara, he topped the 100-yard rushing mark four times and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Ingram can do it all and he has the trust of quarterback Drew Brees.
While Kamara is an excellent player and is fresh off a game in which he rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns, he actually wasn’t superb as a runner in the three games prior. The 23-year-old posted rushing totals of 66, 46 and 29 yards while averaging no more than 4.1 yards per carry in the three-week stretch.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the former Tennessee standout is the superior athlete in this backfield, but Ingram is the better runner. I’m projecting around 14-16 carries for Ingram this week and even more if the Saints get ahead.
Based on everything, I’m comfortable rolling out Ingram in leagues with 12 teams or larger and if you’re hit with byes in a 10-team league with a flex spot, he’s worth considering.