Stop Overlooking Mark Ingram in Fantasy Football Drafts

Prior to his late season injury, Ingram was a top fantasy running back, and he needs to be drafted as one this season.

Selecting New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram in your fantasy football draft is never going to be seen as an exciting pick by your league mates.

Ingram is not known for highlight reel runs that leave defenders clueless or spectacular catches along the sidelines. But you don't really need that in fantasy football.

What Ingram does bring to the table is consistent, high-level fantasy production, which helped him rank fourth in standard leagues last year through Week 13 (before his season-ending shoulder injury) and third in PPR leagues.

It's this consistency that makes Ingram a player to target in your drafts.

Cumulative Totals Do Not Tell the Whole Story

While Ingram's cumulative totals were great last year, diving deeper into his week-to-week production strengthens his argument.

Through Week 13, Mark Ingram was tied with Devonta Freeman for the most top-12 running back performances in PPR scoring. Each had eight. The next-highest mark was six.

Ingram had the highest weekly floor in both PPR and standard leagues in 2015, and in PPR formats, Ingram only had one week with fewer than 12 fantasy points last season, Week 5. He still managed 9.4 PPR points and finished the week as the RB36.

Advanced Metrics

Taking this analysis one step further, we can evaluate Ingram's 2015 performance using Net Expected Points (NEP). If you are not familiar with our NEP metric, you can read more about it in our glossary.

Among 30 running backs with at least 150 carries, Ingram (0.07) ranked second behind only DeAngelo Williams (0.07) in Rushing NEP per carry. No other back topped 0.03.

When it came to the passing game, he was not as efficient in the 2015 season. Ingram ranked 21st among 22 running backs to have at least 50 targets in Reception NEP per target.

Despite his inefficiencies as a pass catcher on a per-target basis, he has proven to have some of of the best hands coming out of the backfield. Ingram had a catch rate of 83% last season (50 catches over 60 targets) which ranked first among the same 22 running backs.

Competition for Touches

A concern for Ingram going into last season was the potential impact that the acquisition of C.J. Spiller would have on his fantasy value. This impact was negligible as Ingram dominated touches on a weekly basis as shown through statistics obtained from RotoGrinders. He only had 1 game with fewer than 14 touches when he was healthy.

Things should be similar this year with Tim Hightower taking over the touches that Khiry Robinson vacated by leaving for the New York Jets. The New Orleans Advocate projects Hightower to be the primary backup to Ingram this upcoming season.

That leaves plenty of room for Ingram.

Touches by Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 Total Total %
Mark Ingram 17 19 19 23 14 23 16 20 26 8 15 16 216 59.0%
Khiry Robinson 13 6 9 8 7 9 15 6 0 0 0 0 73 19.9%
CJ Spiller 0 4 3 7 6 7 10 6 3 10 3 1 60 16.4%
Tim Hightower 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 1 12 3.3%
Travaris Cadet 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 1.4%
Total 30 30 31 38 27 39 41 32 29 29 18 22 366

Injury Concerns Reducing Draft Day Cost

Using average draft position (ADP) data from Fantasy Football Calculator and injury risk data from Sports Injury Predictor, Ingram is a pretty safe pick relative to the backs going off the board right before him: Devonta Freeman, Eddie Lacy, LeSean McCoy, and Doug Martin.

Ingram's injury risk is only slightly higher than two of the four running backs currently being selected ahead of him. Given his high level 2015 production through 13 healthy weeks, Ingram as as much value in this range as any of the other backs, though McCoy has a strong case of his own.

Ingram's injury concerns -- because it's unclear what else could be the reason -- appear to be the reason for his deflated price point in fantasy drafts. Smart owners will take advantage of this and draft him aggressively knowing that, when he is healthy, he is among the most consistent fantasy football running backs in the game.