With Mark Ingram’s signing in Baltimore, he escapes the massive shadow of Alvin Kamara. But what does it mean that he now shares a backfield with the game’s top running quarterback, Lamar Jackson?
With what we know so far about the roughly half-season of starts from Jackson, the move seems to be a favorable one for Ingram. After making the permanent move to Jackson in Week 11 of last season, the Ravens fully committed to the run, trading Joe Flacco to Denver and then cutting Alex Collins a few weeks ago after a car crash-related arrest. Ingram now shares running back duties with Gus Edwards and oft-injured Kenneth Dixon.
It has been said multiple times and ways, but, once the offense switched from Flacco to Jackson, it looked vastly different. That full-season pace of 230 yards per game would have led the NFL by 1,100 yards, or 40 percent more than the league-leading Seahawks.1 Even if that pace is unsustainable and the Ravens don’t average 45 carries for 230 yards per game, they’re a safe bet to lead the league in attempts and yards if Jackson stays healthy and productive enough to remain starter.
The Ravens under Jackson were led in rushing by two rookies: Edwards, an undrafted free agent, and his quarterback. According to the RotoViz Screener app, with Jackson under center full-time, Edwards was fourth in the league in both rushing attempts and rushing yards, while Jackson was sixth in attempts and seventh in yards. At those paces, both Edwards and Jackson would have had well more than 1,000 yards over a full season.
That’s the situation Ingram enters. But how does that compare to the one he was leaving?
While he was still a significant part of the Saints running game, that aspect of their offense is a stark contrast to the Ravens’ new run-first philosophy. In games in which Ingram received more than five carries2 the past two seasons, the Saints ran about 29 times a game, around two-thirds of the Ravens’ attempts under Jackson. Quite simply, expect Ingram to touch the ball a lot more in Baltimore.
As you can see, Edwards and Ingram had the same number of rushing attempts over the season, with Ingram having played one more game. But Edwards didn’t start getting a full load until Jackson took over (coinciding with the phase-out of Collins and his eventual season-ending foot injury), and during that time, he touched the ball about 50 percent more than Ingram over the same period.
At this point, Ingram looks like a buy candidate across all head-to-head formats. Expect him to step into a lead role that gave an average of 17 carries per game to Edwards with Jackson under center. Jackson barely threw to RBs last year, so in formats that award a full point per reception, Ingram’s value gets dinged a bit. In dynasty, with Ingram turning 30 in December, he’s more valuable to teams in win-now mode (especially if Baltimore invests in the running back position in the draft), but he could be a fine RB2 with possible RB1 upside. In best-ball drafts, I expect him to jump from his current average at around RB27 and start going around RB20, roughly the Devonta Freeman/Phillip Lindsay range.