Whether it was Steve Smith, Steve McNair, Willis McGahee, Michael Crabtree or countless others, the Baltimore Ravens have long been known as a team known to pass on the higher priced free agents and a group unwilling to trade draft choices to move up for elite prospects, instead choosing to find lower cost veteran free agents to help their team. True to form, they swooped in today and signed veteran running back Mark Ingram, formerly of the Saints, to a three-year, $15 million contract. The move fills a massive hole at the position and costs them about $37 million less than it would have had they chosen to sign Le’Veon Bell instead. The move has far reaching dynasty impact, so let’s cover the players involved.
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Mark Ingram, RB BAL
While Ingram is no Le’Veon Bell, he’s still a very capable runner. With Lamar Jackson at the helm of the offense, it’s clear the Ravens are going to establish a run-first mentality until Jackson is fully capable of carrying the offense himself. The Ravens led the league in rushing attempts (547) and attempts per game (34.2) last season with the likes of Gus Edwards, Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen leading the way. With Collins’ legal issues and subsequent release, it was clear this was an area of need since there was a lack of depth at a position used more by Baltimore than any other team in the league.
In Ingram, the Ravens are getting a former Heisman trophy winner with 6,007 career rushing yards on a healthy 4.5 yards per carry, despite his early career struggles. While Ingram is 29 years old, he still has fewer than 1,600 touches in his eight-year career. To put that into perspective, Saquon Barkley had over 350 last year alone. While he has some worn down tread, it’s not like Ingram is flying down the freeway like an out of control semi from Ice Road Truckers here, either.
From a dynasty perspective, this is about as good a situation as you could hope for. As long as the Ravens don’t address the need further, Ingram is looking at heavy workloads each and every week as he works with Gus Edwards to form a pretty potent duo. While he’s certainly going to cede some passing game work to other running backs and lose some carries to Edwards, he likely won’t be replaced on entire drives like he was with Alvin Kamara in New Orleans. As it stands, it looks like Ingram should have a legitimate shot at a career high in carries (he’d only need to average 15 per game to achieve that) and his third 1,000 yard season. I would expect Ingram’s ADP to rise and he seems like a prime trade candidate for a contending dynasty team.
Gus Edwards, RB BAL
Edwards came out of nowhere and showed very well last year with 718 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 137 carries. Those totals included three different 100-yard efforts. Despite what many may assume, I can’t imagine Edwards just going away and watching Ingram become a true three-down bellcow. While the addition of Ingram certainly hurts the value of Edwards, it really just creates more of a committee approach than anything else. I’d expect Ingram to get 15-18 carries a game and Edwards to get ten or so on any given week. While having a tandem isn’t totally optimal, the Ravens run the ball at a historic rate, which is enough to make more than one running back pretty fantasy relevant. Even if those splits were right (18/10), the Ravens would still have carries to distribute if they ran as much as they did last season. While Edwards’ ADP is going to fall now that the Ravens have Ingram, it shouldn’t plummet, either. If you see an owner in your league hit the panic button, help them out by taking him off their hands for peanuts.
Kenneth Dixon, RB BAL
If there’s a player on Baltimore hurt more by this signing than Edwards, it’s clearly Dixon. He was in line to be the RB2 for the Ravens, but that’s not going to happen now. While he could become a third down option, it’s not the most natural transition for him. In fact, he caught only six passes last year. At this point, it’s likely best for him to play out the last year of his rookie deal and find a new home.
Lamar Jackson, QB BAL
The running game is going to continue to be his best friend and the addition of Ingram is a big win for Jackson and his dynasty owners. Having Ingram in tow should allow Jackson time to grow in the offense and not force him into constant third and long situations. I’d expect Jackson’s ADP to slightly increase as a result.
Alvin Kamara, RB NO
With Ingram being replaced by Latavius Murray in New Orleans, Kamara is even more desirable as a fantasy asset. Murray is more than capable as a runner, but it would be pretty surprising to see him soak up as much of the workload Ingram did in New Orleans. While Kamara won’t be the lead runner with no competition for carries as he was at the beginning of last year when he completely dominated in fantasy and reality, his touches should still increase enough to make him a bona fide one man wrecking crew next season.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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