Mark Ingram has been a productive back for years with the New Orleans Saints. However, he ended up having the starting job uprooted from him when the team drafted the dynamic Alvin Kamara. Now with the Baltimore Ravens, Ingram looks to show the league he can still be a workhorse back. Damien Williams is the opposite. Some might call him a late bloomer after he exploded onto the scene late in 2018. But how much of Williams production was due to his own skills? Considering the two have similar ADP, Ingram is the back with just as high a ceiling, with less of a risk to bust.
Fantasy Football: Draft Mark Ingram Over Damien Williams
Lightning in a Bottle?
The biggest issue with Williams is that he has far from locked down the starting position for the Kansas City Chiefs. He came in and performed admirably once the Chiefs cut ties with Kareem Hunt, but there are legitimate questions on just how much of a product of Kansas City’s high-powered offense Williams was.
Williams started from weeks 15 through 17 for the Chiefs, accumulating 68.2 points in PPR leagues during that span. That put him as the RB2 for that span. This explains why so many are high on Williams, as he averaged a ridiculous 22.7 points-per-game. He carried this momentum into the NFL playoffs, rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts, and then totaling 96 yards and another touchdown against the New England Patriots.
But after numbers like that, many are forgetting that Williams is coming into his sixth NFL season. He also was the third back, even behind veteran Spencer Ware, and only got the starting job because Ware went down. He will be on a short leash with such little production in his time in the league.
The Chiefs obviously were not comfortable relying on Williams either. They brought in Carlos Hyde, the former San Francisco 49ers starter who had a weird 2018 that saw him traded from the Cleveland Browns midseason. But the trade was not due to lack of production. Hyde was a solid RB2 with the Browns, clocking in as the RB16 before his trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He could fight to see time on the field if he sticks with the Chiefs.
However, Hyde’s roster spot is far from secure as well. This is mostly due to rookie Darwin Thompson fell to the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft, mostly due to his smaller five-foot-eight stature. However, he plays much bigger than that playing with the power of a much bigger back.
So far in the preseason, Thompson is the Chiefs leading rusher, totaling 52 yards on nine attempts. He also caught a pass that he took for 29 yards, showcasing his explosive skill set. With Thompson waiting in the wings, and Hyde fighting for a spot, Williams is way too risky to take in fantasy drafts.
A Running Back’s Dream Offense
Ingram, on the other hand, is in a much better position compared to Williams. He has been a very productive back his entire career who only left the Saints because they lucked into getting one of the most dynamic backs in the league in Kamara. Ingram said that he wanted to go to a team that he could start for and felt like the Ravens gave him that shot.
And speaking of unproven backs, before Ingram signed with the team, the Ravens had a similar situation. After Alex Collins flamed out during his chance as the starter, Gus Edwards came in and was surprisingly impressive. After minimal playing time, Edwards burst onto the scene in week 11, putting up 654 yards in just seven games.
However, Edwards is a one-sided back, putting up a mere 20 yards receiving on two catches. He also undoubtedly benefited from Lamar Jackson, whose ability as a runner helps any running back. With Jackson coming into his second season as the starter, Baltimore looks to run an offense centered around their young signal-caller. But the team will want some versatility in their running back, something Ingram provides.
Ingram’s Upside Outweighs His Risks
Mark Ingram saw his role decrease significantly last year, as the offense transitioned more towards Kamara. But, looking between 2017 to 2015, Ingram had a stretch of very good productivity. 2017 was his best year as a pro, as he racked up 1,124 rushing yards and an additional 416 yards through the air. 2016 and 2015 also saw him total at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage.
There is cause for concern with Ingram’s age, as he comes into his ninth season. He also has injury concerns. In his eight NFL seasons, he has only started 16 games three times. However, it should be noted, that the only time he missed in the past three seasons was four games due to suspension. Overall, Ingram should see significant touches in the Ravens running back friendly offense. His reward greatly outweighs the risk.
Mark Ingram, Damien Williams ADP and Outlook
Williams and Ingram are rated back-to-back as the RB44 and RB45 in PPR leagues. They are also the only running backs with fifth-round grades ono them, with Aaron Jones ranked as the RB35, and then James White all the way down at RB56. Players who go zero running back might find themselves with a huge need at this point in the draft. Both Ingram and Williams could end up being great backs that outperform their ADP.
But, this also makes Williams even riskier if he might not even start the entire season. Ingram is guaranteed touches, and likely holds onto the starting job as long as he stays healthy. Williams could disappear as quickly as he burst onto the scene at the end of last season. If given the choice, Ingram is the back to draft over Williams.
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