Mark Ingram seemed primed to be the bell cow back in Baltimore’s new look backfield this season. This, after signing a more than generous contract for a 29-year old running back. Yet, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman may have a different opinion.
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For Ingram owners, at least you have the insurance that Ingram will draw the start, but that’s about all we know.
Ingram has a lot working to his advantage. For starters, while he may be approaching the dreaded running back age of 30, he has not taken the pounding of a 30-year old back. Ingram split carries for the majority of his Saints tenure, exceeding 166-carries just three times in his eight year career.
Next would be the Ravens offensive philosophy. Baltimore will run it early and often, and possibly always this season. Lamar Jackson leaves much to be desired as a passer at this point in his career, so much so that Baltimore passed the ball less than 38% of the time with Jackson in the lineup. Obviously Jackson will be asked to throw the ball more this season, and obviously he will eat into running back carries. Yet there is an abundance of carries to be had by Baltimore running backs, and Ingram is first up to bat.
The best case scenario would be that Ingram would serve as the Willis McGahee to Lamar Jackson’s Tim Tebow. Which for fantasy purposes would be a home run for owners who grabbed Ingram around his current ADP. Mark Ingram is the clear-cut fantasy option in the Ravens backfield for Week 1. Unfortunately for Ingram owners, moving forward Baltimore has a plethora of talented backs waiting in the wing for their opportunity.
Gus the Bus
It was honestly a bit of a head-scratcher to see Baltimore sign Ingram this offseason to a fat contract when they had a younger and cheaper option in Gus Edwards.
Edwards exploded on the scene, rushing for 115 yards once inserted into the team’s starting lineup following a week 10 bye. From Week 11 on, there is an argument to be had if any running back performed as well as Edwards did on the ground. Notice how we specifically mention the ground, that’s because Edwards is essentially useless through the air, at least from what he showed in his rookie year.
Edwards rushed for a superb average of 93.4 yards over the final seven weeks of the season, with four games over 90 yards. Unfortunately, he and Ingram offer much of the same in the run game, while Ingram is the superior pass-catcher.
Justice Hill truthers ignite! The biggest sleeper in the backfield may also be the most talented. The third round pick out of Oklahoma State is clearly the quickest and most agile of the group, and arguably the best receiver. Hill may be undersized as a feature back, checking in at just 5’10, 198 lbs., yet makes up for it with above average vision and toughness when running between the tackles. Out of all the running backs on the Ravens depth chart, Hill likely compliments Lamar Jackson and what the Ravens would like to do on offense the most.
Hill is not the back you want to start this week, but the back you want to stash for future gain.
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