During the offseason the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints added talented players at the running back position. Entering the 2017 season both teams have high expectations coming off a sub par 2016 season.
The Panthers drafted Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey eighth overall while the Saints signed future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. Given that last year starters, Jonathan Stewart and Mark Ingram respectively, are still around both teams will now have a running back by committee approach.
Both teams acquired their new running back with a mindset of changing up their offenses. McCaffrey provides the Panthers with an explosive swiss army knife kind of playmaker. Peterson gives the Saints two starting caliber running backs as the Saints plan to be more balanced this season.
But this is about the fantasy value of McCaffrey versus that of Ingram. So let’s get started.
McCaffrey is expected to take over as the starter pushing Stewart into a complementary role. Stewart will be used as the goalline and short yardage back. Given his age and injury history this is a better role for Stewart; who signed a one year contract extension this offseason, but that was for cap purposes only.
As the starter, McCaffrey will be used as the focal point of the offense. Between rushes and catches, McCaffrey should have over 320 touches this season. With McCaffrey’s dangerous open field ability expect the Panthers to focus on getting him the ball whether on a run or catch out of the backfield or out of the slot.
Outside of Greg Olsen the Panthers lack consistent weapons around McCaffrey, putting him in line for a big workload. At Stanford, McCaffrey proved he could handle a big workload and that should get fantasy football owners excited.
Repeatedly, this offseason the Panthers have stated that they want to take pressure off Cam Newton and keep him out of harms way. Best way to do that is to limit Newton’s rushing attempts and throw quick passes. Both help McCaffrey’s value.
Because there is NO WAY a healthy Adrian Peterson will be taking a firm backseat to Mark Ingram. RBBC. Guaranteed.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) June 27, 2017
On the other hand, Ingram’s value looks bleak given the additions the Saints made this offseason. In addition to signing Peterson in free agency, they traded away a 2018 second round draft pick in order to draft Alvin Kamara. Kamara is expected to be the third down and pass catching back, limiting Ingram’s touches in the passing game. Now with him mostly removed from that role, he is stuck splitting time on early downs with Peterson. Given the timeshare with a future Hall of Famer, Ingram faces a tough path towards a top 24 running back fantasy season. It also doesn’t help Ingram that two of his starting offensive lineman, Max Unger and Terron Armstead, are expected to miss the start of the season.
Bust #1: Mark Ingram
With the addition of AP, Ingram will see his carries dramatically decrease. I would avoid taking him at all costs.
— 4th and Long FF (@4th_long) June 29, 2017
Ingram’s fantasy value clearly has taken a hit with the Saints but he may not even be playing for the Saints this season. Rumors have been floating around that Ingram could be traded for the right price. It was reported that he was offered in talks with the Eagles before they signed LeGarrette Blount earlier this offseason.
If a team loses it’s starting running back in camp expect them to call the Saints to see about an Ingram trade. Depending on how the team feels Karama’s development is going, they might make it if the price is right.
Should Ingram get traded his fantasy value clearly changes, especially if he is then featured in a clear cut starter role.
Assuming Ingram stays in New Orleans his value is at a minimal. If he has a rough 50-50 split with Peterson, as I expect, Ingram should only get around 150 carries this season. Ingram wouldn’t even be a lock for the goalline work as Peterson is just as good in that role.
I believe that @CMcCaffrey5 will be a top 15 RB in standard and PPR fantasy leagues be years end. Don’t @ me!
— Jared Feinberg 🏈 (@JrodsVlogs) June 30, 2017
McCaffrey is set for a clear cut role and Ingram is currently facing a hazy situation. With McCaffrey having a high upside and Ingram having a limited upside to me it’s not even close; McCaffrey will have a better fantasy season than Ingram.
I would start considering taking McCaffrey in the fourth round and Ingram in the sixth round in 12 team standard leagues. For PPR leagues, McCaffrey should taken in the third round while Ingram falls into the eighth round conversation.