There weren’t many fantasy football managers rushing out to add Mark Ingram to their roster ahead of the 2021 NFL season. The former Heisman Trophy winner has had a successful career, first with the New Orleans Saints and later with the Baltimore Ravens, but his latest landing spot didn’t inspire confidence. Let’s take a look at Ingram’s outlook for Week 3 as the Houston Texans face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football.
Should you start Mark Ingram in Week 3?
Ingram may be the lead back for the Texans, but he hasn’t broken free from the committee. He has 41 of 70 RB touches, but his inefficiency has left the door open for Phillip Lindsay (who has proven himself the better receiving option) and David Johnson (who is averaging more yards per carry on the ground).
Mark Ingram is the lead back in Houston’s committee
Ingram is a running back who accumulates most of his fantasy points on the ground in an offense that most expected would be forced to pass to keep up with opponents. To make matters worse for Ingram, the Texans signed Lindsay and retained Johnson. Opportunity is crucial for running backs, and this particular three-headed monster didn’t look as if it would offer enough volume for any of them to be viable.
Despite this, Ingram handled a huge workload in Week 1. He rushed 26 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Managers who invested in Ingram were pleased as he undoubtedly exceeded expectations, but the volume was never going to be sustainable. For reference, Derrick Henry led the league with 23.6 rushing attempts per game in 2020, so Ingram’s workload inevitably was going to drop.
That’s exactly what happened in Week 2. Ingram rushed 14 times for 41 yards and had 1 reception (which lost a yard). A running back with 15 touches still holds value, but the limitations in Ingram’s game are clear. He’s playing behind a struggling offensive line and is no longer a dynamic runner capable of overcoming a poor OL. Ingram averaged 3.3 yards per rush attempt in the season opener and just 2.9 last week. If he continues in that vein, a heavy workload is not just a luxury — it’s a necessity.
The Texans face a difficult fantasy RB matchup
Ingram faces the Carolina Panthers in Week 3. Through two games, the Panthers have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL. The New York Jets managed just 45 rushing yards against the Panthers in the season opener, while the New Orleans Saints could only muster 48 yards in Week 2.
Like the Texans, the Jets are a team that deploys an uncomfortable and unproductive running back committee. The Saints, however, have one of the league’s top running backs in Alvin Kamara. New Orleans also has one of the league’s top offensive minds in Sean Payton. The fact that the Panthers were able to shut down the ground game — and limit Kamara to just 4 receptions for 25 yards — was impressive.
For the third consecutive week, Ingram’s viability as a starter in fantasy football will depend upon scoring a touchdown. Luckily for those rostering him, he’s the clear lead rusher for the Texans in the red zone. His 10 rushing attempts from inside the 20-yard line trail only Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey (7 attempts from within the 10-yard line, while 5 have come from within the 5-yard line).
Mark Ingram’s Week 3 fantasy projection
Tyrod Taylor was named Houston’s starting QB with the uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury means that the Texans will be without Taylor for multiple weeks. In the meantime, the team will turn the offense over to rookie QB Davis Mills.
With Mills at quarterback, the Texans will likely rely on their experienced RBs to power their offense. Whether Houston will remain committed to the run is unclear, but if you believe the Texans will score a touchdown, Ingram is the player who should see the most opportunities to find the end zone.
Ingram is currently the RB38 in our Week 3 running back rankings. He has a tough matchup and is playing on an offense without its top two quarterback options. Moreover, he’s involved in a timeshare and has looked like a player on the decline. Ingram should only be started in deep leagues.
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