Why Chris Ivory Should Be the Jets' Lead Back Going Forward

What was supposed to be a even split at the start of the season shouldn't be anymore.

In the offseason, the New York Jets signed Chris Johnson to pair with Chris Ivory, creating a a one-two punch at running back. However, now seven weeks into the season, it's clear who should be getting more of the touches as the Jets's lead back.

To date, the Jets have given Ivory 88 touches and Johnson 64. Ivory has received 43.35 percent of the Jets' 203 rushing attempts, while Johnson has taken 31.53 percent. The other 25.12 percent have gone to Geno Smith, Bilal Powell, Michael Vick and Tommy Bohanon.

And with these carries, Ivory has produced at an above-average level, while Johnson has not. Ivory has 88 rushes for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns, a 4.9 yards per carry average. Johnson's 64 carries have gone for 261 yards and a touchdown, a 4.1 yards per carry average. Both players have also had 12 catches out of the backfield on 18 targets, Ivory for 103 yards and Johnson for 59 yards and a touchdown.

And with more touches, Ivory has the lead in fantasy points with 66 in ESPN standard-scoring leagues, good for 11th best among running backs, while Johnson has 37 fantasy points, good for 40th among running backs.

Ivory's been a better back with more touches, but where he really separates himself from Johnson is in terms of Net Expected Points (NEP), numberFire's metric used to measure how many points a play adds or subtracts from his teams' expected total. Rushing NEP measures how many points a players added or subtracted from his team through rushing attempts, while Rushing NEP per play measures the points added or subtracted on a per-play basis. Success rate shows the percentage of plays that contribute positively towards a player's NEP.

PlayerRush NEPRush NEP/PSuccess Rate

Ivory has been better overall and on a per play basis in terms of NEP, and its not even close. Ivory ranks second among running backs with 50 or more carries in Rushing NEP and Rushing NEP per play, only behind Justin Forsett. Ivory is also second in success rate behind Khiry Robinson. Ivory has been one of the best running backs in the NFL according to NEP.

Chris Johnson, on the other hand, has not. Among running backs with 50 or more rushes, Johnson ranks 29th in Rushing NEP and success rate and 31st in Rushing NEP per play. Simply, Ivory has been a much better and much more efficient back.

And the same holds for when they catch passes out of the backfield. Both have 12 catches on 18 targets, but Ivory has made better use of them. Reception NEP measures the points a player adds on receptions, while Target NEP looks at the points added on all targets, including drops, incompletions, and interceptions. Reception NEP per target takes a players Reception NEP and divides it by his total targets, a way of determining how efficient a receiver is.

PlayerRec NEPTarget NEPRec NEP/Target

Just like with rushing, Ivory has proven a more competent and efficient receiver than Johnson.

Finally, looking at their numberFire top historical comparables, which can be found on their player pages (see Ivory's here and Johnson's here), Ivory's are better than Johnson's.

Ivory's top comparable is Derrick Blaylock's 2004 season, in which he rushed for 539 yards and eight touchdowns, while catching 25 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. And only eight weeks into the season, Ivory could easily top that.

While on the other hand, Johnson's top historical comparable is Terrell Fletcher's 2000 season in which he rushed for just 384 yards and three touchdowns, while catching 48 receptions for 355 yards and a touchdown.

Ivory has been the better back so far, and he should be getting the majority of the touches the rest of the season. He has simply been a better back, and numberFire's remaining projections project this to continue. Ivory's projected to be the 27th-best running back the rest of the season, and Johnson is the 47th.

Going forward, Chris Ivory and not Chris Johnson is the running back to own in New York in fantasy football and should be the go-to guy for the Jets without question. Ivory has been better overall and more efficient than Johnson, and he should continue to be going forward. numberFire projections have him at 69.86 fantasy points the rest of the season, but if Ivory continues to take Johnson's carries, he shouldn't have much trouble topping that.