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Why Draft Mark Ingram When This RB is Cheaper?

“You pay for this, but they give you that.”

That classic Neil Young lyric came to mind as I was researching this year’s “Why Buy?” series. We’re often so confident of what we’re going to get when we spend that sixth-round pick on the next big thing, but in reality, we rarely know what we’re buying.

The solution? Pay less for the same upside.

That’s the concept behind our “Why Buy?” series, which is inspired by the Fantasy Douche’s Getting Something for Nothing article penned back in 2013.

Whatever you want to call it — arbitrage, discount shopping, or simply fading overpriced players — there’s no shortage of opportunities to buy knock-off versions of more expensive players this season.

We already explored discounts for Dante Pettis and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Now, let’s look at a cheap play on Mark Ingram.

The Age Cliff Approaches

Ingram’s allure in what could be the league’s most run-heavy offense is understandable, but he also comes with a ton of risk. Shawn Siegele called him this year’s LeSean McCoy — an old RB on a potentially poor offense.

The former Saint turns 30 later this season, having already hit the RB age cliff we typically start to see at age 29.

Ingram has benefitted from playing in an offense that perennially ranks in the top three in expected points from the RB position. Now he’s on a new, slower-paced offense with this SPARQ-freak RB breathing down his neck.

Justice Hill has been popping up all over RotoViz priority target lists recently, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s going to be hard to keep this shiny new toy off the field, making Ingram a risky bet — even without the rest of his red flags.

Instead, pivot to this younger back with higher upside several rounds later.

Rolls Royce

Royce Freeman was the cover boy for our 10 “S2” Committee Backs to Target and makes for an ideal Zero RB target in 2019:

  • He has stand-alone value.
  • He has the potential for a huge swing in value.

If it’s a question of anti-fragility, Freeman gets the nod there as well. There’s nothing that can happen this season to vault Ingram’s value several rounds higher, but Freeman is one injury away from seeing his ADP blast off.

Despite many of us at RotoViz beating the drum for the sophomore back, and despite the Broncos continually hinting at a closer RB timeshare this year, Freeman’s ADP has actually fallen in early August.

Ingram’s larger role in the passing game provides a safer floor, but their rushing market share numbers were almost identical last year, and it was Freeman who was the more efficient runner.

Judging by the eyeball test, Freeman didn’t look as explosive or effective as Phillip Lindsay last year, but he continued his collegiate trend of creating yards after contact.

Athletically, it’s no contest — Freeman is younger, bigger, faster, more agile, and more explosive. He probably also plays on a better offense, although the Ravens are a bit of a wildcard in that regard.

 HTWT40VertBroadShuttle3 Cone
Ingram5'9"2154.6231.51134.627.13
Freeman5'11"2294.54341184.166.9

Conclusion

The Broncos are unlikely to take away too much work from their Pro Bowl UDFA, Lindsay, but Freeman’s volume last year is probably close to his floor.

He’s shown enough to make us optimistic about a second-year leap and is in precisely the kind of anti-fragile situation we like to see from our Zero RB targets.

Ingram has too many red flags and not as much upside. He’s a soft pass for me (not a complete fade) while I target the cheaper, younger back in a potentially better offense.

Image Credit: Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Royce Freeman.

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