Saints beat writer Mike Triplett on the fantasy value of the team's running backs:
It's pretty close between C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram. I'm really excited to see what Spiller will do in this offense as both a runner and receiver - mostly because you can tell that Sean Payton is really excited about the possibilities when he talks about Spiller. I think Spiller and Ingram will be very close in total yards from scrimmage - right around 1,000 yards each, with Ingram gaining almost all of those yards as a rusher and Spiller having a pretty even split between rushing and receiving yards. Spiller will get a boost in point-per-reception leagues. Ingram will probably score more TDs, though.
Senior Editor laid out The Case for C.J. Spiller earlier in the offseason. It's not inconceivable that Spiller posts top 5 PPR numbers a la Darren Sproles in 2011. Ingram should get his share of touches, though a healthy Khriy Robinson is a concern. Spiller would be our choice for PPR formats, with Ingram coming in higher in standard leagues.
Mark Ingram was back in action Wednesday during the New Orleans Saints' organized team activities practice -- backing up coach Sean Payton's insistence that the running back wasn't dealing with any significant injury when he was held out of practice during parts of the past two weeks.
Payton had said Ingram was dealing with a minor foot/ankle issue but that it was mostly about being smart and cautious at this time of year.
Ingram averaged 19.6 touches for 85 yards and 0.69 TD per game in his 13-game season in 2014. He averaged 4.27 YPC last season after averaging 5.02 YPC in 2013. He benefited somewhat by injuries to Khiry Robinson, who could potentially eat into Ingram's 2015 workload. The team also signed C.J. Spiller to fill the Pierre Thomas/Darren Sproles role in the offense. Ingram posted the #11 PPG in PPR formats (#8 in standard). We’re expecting a step back from those numbers as the team gets Robinson and Spiller involved.
Running back Mark Ingram was once again watching from the sideline during the New Orleans Saints' second week of organized team activities (OTAs) on Thursday. But coach Sean Payton stressed that he's not dealing with anything "significant" and that the Saints are just being smart at this time of year.
Ingram was also out last Thursday with what Payton described as a minor foot/ankle issue.
“We’ve just sat him,” Payton said. “There’s nothing significant. It’s this time of the year where we’re smart about what we’re doing.”
Ingram averaged 19.6 touches for 85 yards and 0.69 TD per game in his 13-game season in 2014. He averaged 4.27 YPC last season after averaging 5.02 YPC in 2013. He benefited somewhat by injuries to Khiry Robinson, who could potentially eat into Ingram's 2015 workload. The team also signed C.J. Spiller to fill the Pierre Thomas/Darren Sproles role in the offense. Ingram posted the #11 PPG in PPR formats (#8 in standard), and will be drafted as a high-end RB2 in 2015 fantasy drafts, provided this foot issue doesn't linger.
Let’s assume the Saints log 430 carries next year. I’ll give 185 to Mark Ingram, 140 to Spiller, and the rest to the other guys. Those numbers might seem conservative, but 430 carries would put New Orleans right in the middle of the league.
With the baseline set, I expect Spiller to end up with more touches. I think he’s going to be a big player in the passing game, working out of the backfield and split out as a receiver.
Look, I’ll be honest, I probably have unreasonable expectations for Spiller. I think he’s going to do big things. I’ve let my mind run wild, envisioning all the different ways a creative coach like Sean Payton could use him.
Going back to the question, I think it will be close, but I’ll give Spiller the edge in touches.
We have Ingram projected to carry the ball 212 times, with Spiller getting 80 carries and Robinson with 72, so we favor Ingram heavily in the running game with Robinson seeing more of a role as well. Still, Spiller is an attractive pick, especially in PPR formats. Underhill did say he had "unreasonable expectations" for Spiller, so his projections should be taken with a grain of salt. For more on Spiller, check out Senior Editor John Paulsen's recent article, The Case for C.J. Spiller in New Orleans.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett estimates the touches in the team's backfield:
Combine that with the four-year, $16 million contract New Orleans gave Ingram this offseason, and I don't expect a dramatic drop-off in his workload in 2015. However, the Saints do have the luxury of keeping Ingram fresh if everyone stays healthy.
Assuming everyone stays healthy, I'll go with something like:
Ingram 240 touches (950-1,000 rushing yards)
C.J. Spiller 150 touches (400-plus rushing yards, 500-plus receiving yards)
Khiry Robinson 90 touches (350-400 rushing yards)
As Senior Editor John Paulsen broke down in The Case for C.J. Spiller, 150 touches (80 carries, 70 catches) would result in a #19 RB finish in PPR formats. Even if the the Saints give Spiller more carries (96) and fewer catches (60), Spiller's projected production would result in a #20 RB finish. Over the last two weeks, Spiller has been the 27th RB off the board in early best ball PPR drafts. Ingram has been the 15th RB taken, so if we assume 1,100 total yards, nine touchdowns and 30 receptions, he would finish with 194 FP (PPR), which happens to match his total from last season. He was the #14 RB in only 13 games played in 2014. A healthy Robinson is a concern for Ingram, however. The Saints wanted to increase Robinson's role prior to his Week 7 injury (fractured arm), so we may see more of an even split in the running game between the two backs if they both stay healthy.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:28pm
Robinson will enter his third season with the Saints as third fiddle with Mark Ingram returning and C.J. Spiller signing with the Saints. The landscape looked quite different one month ago with Ingram being a potentially hot free agent and Pierre Thomas being released.
Ingram will be the clear-cut option for snatching up carries after his breakout 2014 season. Spiller is a far more capable runner in the traditional ground game than Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles the last few seasons.
This means more carries for Ingram and Spiller and less touches for Robinson. The logic entering 2014 was that we'd see more Robinson. Barring injuries, Robinson will likely find fewer opportunities.
Update: The deal is for four years and $18 million, with $9 million guaranteed.
This is not an ideal landing spot from a fantasy standpoint. Not only is Spiller's upside capped by the presence of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, but he limits Ingram's upside as well. He'll likely take over the role of Pierre Thomas, who averaged 11.6 touches per game over the last two seasons. Thomas finished with a top 30 PPG (PPR) in six of the last seven seasons, so that's a reasonable target for Spiller. In short, he has upside in this offense, but his workload will be limited in a committee.
Jay Glazer reported that the deal sends Seattle's first round pick and C Max Unger to the Saints. The Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while now, and they finally got their guy. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps. The move is a big upgrade for Russell Wilson, who was the #3 QB in 2014 despite a serious lack of playmakers in the passing game. Conversely, it's a major downgrade for Drew Brees, who loses his top target in the passing game. Unger's arrival is good news for the recently re-signed Mark Ingram, while the Seahawks will have to find a way to replace one of the best centers in the game. The loss of Unger will have a negative impact on Marshawn Lynch. Also, TE Josh Hill could step into a big role for the Saints.
The deal is worth $16 million over the four years, sources said.
Ingram confirmed that he is staying in New Orleans via Twitter on Saturday night.
Ingram averaged 19.6 touches for 85 yards and 0.69 TD per game in his 13-game season in 2014. He averaged 4.27 YPC last season after averaging 5.02 YPC in 2013. He benefited somewhat by injuries to Khiry Robinson, who could potentially eat into Ingram's 2015 workload, though the loss of Pierre Thomas may allow Ingram to have a larger role in the passing game. He averaged 2.8 catches in the five games that Thomas missed. He posted the #11 PPG in PPR formats (#8 in standard), and will be drafted as a high-end RB2 in 2015 fantasy drafts.
"They said they want me back, for sure," he said. "I was their draft pick, so they said they definitely want me to come back."
The market for free agent running backs has dried up considerably in recent years, but Ingram should be able to garner the $3 million per year (or so) that Toby Gerhart and Rashad Jennings received last year. Ingram would hold RB2-type value if he returns to New Orleans since a healthy Khiry Robinson would likely cap Ingram's workload. Robinson's injuries played a big role in Ingram getting the 19.6 touches per game that he saw in 2014.
Robinson has averaged 4.51 YPC on 130 totes, but hasn't been used much in the passing game while with the Saints (eight catches, 63 yards). If the Saints allow Mark Ingram to walk, Robinson could see a big workload as the team's primary back. He won't become a restricted free agent until 2016. Pierre Thomas is signed for two more seasons, so he would likely handle pass-catching duties.
Running back Mark Ingram is wrapping up the final year of his contract with the team and preparing to head into free agency after his best NFL season. Ingram missed three games early in the season, but has since held up well under a heavy workload caused by injuries other backs. Ingram has set career highs in attempts, yards, receptions and touchdowns and thinks he’s sold himself well in the process.
“Yeah, I think that’s a good thing, seeing that I could carry the ball and be out there doing whatever they ask me to do for a stretch of time and be healthy,” Ingram said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Running backs have not found a friendly market in free agency in recent years, so Ingram will have to buck that trend to land a big contract. That will be tough in a year when DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, C.J. Spiller and Frank Gore are also set to make up a crowded free agent market at the position, but coming off his best pro season shouldn’t hurt when it comes time for Ingram to talk contract.
Ingram's 75.6 rushing yards per game are the 7th-highest this season. He's not going to land a big contract due to how the position has been devalued in recent years, but he should be able to match the three-year, $10.5 million that Toby Gerhart got in Jacksonville. If Ingram leaves, Khiry Robinson figures to take over the role as the team's primary between-the-tackles runner. Robinson is signed through the 2015 season.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Saints RB Mark Ingram (ankle, toe, probable) took limited practice reps all week and is probable for Week 14. Ingram is good to go for a nice matchup against the Panthers.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 14. Robinson will likely return as the clear back up to Mark Ingram, who continues to run very well.
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