Ideally, a good running back is the backbone of your fantasy football team. Real-life, however, tends to differ from the perfect scenario. Even if everyone is healthy and able to play, you might be struggling to decide who to sit or start on a given weekend. If you own Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram, however, make sure he’s in your starting line-up.
Yes, the Ravens are taking on the dominant New England Patriots defense. There’s still a case, though, for keeping Ingram as one of your starters.
Mark Ingram’s season so far
After spending his first eight NFL season with the New Orleans Saints Mark Ingram joined the Ravens during the offseason. He immediately slotted into the top spot on the depth chart, becoming Baltimore’s number one running back.
Ingram exploded in Week 1, shredding a weak Miami Dolphins defense for 107 yards and two touchdowns. He was less effective in Baltimore’s next game but came to the forefront against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.
After that three-touchdown performance, however, Ingram’s production started to tail off. In Baltimore’s next, he failed to break the 100-yard plateau, and only posted two rushing touchdowns.
Facing the New England Patriots defense
On paper, Ingram’s life won’t get any easier this weekend. When the Ravens host the New England Patriots, the NFL’s top defense will be coming to town.
This season, the Patriots defense has allowed a league-best 234 yards per game, with roughly two-thirds of that coming in the air. Despite those strong numbers, some running backs have found success against New England.
In Week 4, Frank Gore shredded the Pats’ defense for 109 yards on 17 carries. Le’Veon Bell picked up 70 yards on 15 carries in a game when the New York Jets couldn’t complete a pass and, last weekend, Browns running back Nick Chubb had 131 yards on 20 carries to go along with his two fumbles.
Given Lamar Jackson’s scrambling potential, expect the Patriots to focus on keeping him in the pocket. That should mean Ingram—who will have fresh legs coming off the bye—will have plenty of chances to touch the ball.
Mark Ingram’s fantasy outlook
Rushing against the New England Patriots this season has been a bit of a double-edged sword from a fantasy perspective. While running backs have been able to rack up nice chunks of yardage without too many touches, no one has been able to score a touchdown on the ground. As you surely know, every fantasy owner would take consistent touchdowns over yardage without an end product.
While Mark Ingram probably won’t be a world-beater, you shouldn’t be afraid to start him this afternoon. The Patriots will come out trying to stop Lamar Jackson’s runs and force Baltimore to beat them with a more conventional offense; if they want to run the ball, it will have to be through Ingram. The running back has also caught at least one pass in the past six games, providing an added bonus if you’re playing in a PPR format.
The Patriots defense is undoubtedly intimidating, but Mark Ingram should remain a reliable option for your second running back slot. If he manages to find the end zone against New England, his upside could reach even higher.