Houston’s backfield added veteran Mark Ingram, creating a bit of crowd, here we attempt to pick uncover the fantasy impact.
Let’s start out by saying that Houston have been somewhat in freefall. It started a few years ago, but came to a head when the team moved out DeAndre Hopkins. This season, the front office made the decision to appoint David Culley as the head coach.
Culley comes over from the Baltimore Ravens, where he served as the assistant head coach, wide receivers coach & passing game co-ordinator. Given his history as a wide receivers coach, I’ve seen people say that it’s going to mean fewer rushing attempts. However, looking back at where he has coached the teams are ones that have attempted to establish the run. (Steelers ’96-’98, Eagles ’99-’12, Chiefs ’13-’16). So I’m going to assume that we can expect a decent number of attempts from the backfield.
Rushing Attempt Split
The reason you see running backs at the top of drafts is relatively simple. Outside of the top tier, teams split touches between a number of players. That was why I picked up David Johnson in alot of drafts last season. He was going to be given the main workload. This season I’m not as sure.
Deshaun Watson’s Status
Alot has been said about what Deshaun Watson is going to do. However, with the team bringing in Tyrod Taylor, whoever is standing under center they are likely to take just under a quarter of the carries.
David Johnson Returning
Johnson was the lead back for Houston last season, and performed well enough. Not the levels he performed to back in Arizona, but well enough to finish as the RB19 on the season (in Half-PPR leagues). Despite only playing 12 games! Johnson might be getting towards the end of his career, but he still has gas in the tank. I’m still going to project that Johnson gets the majority of carries in this backfield, taking around half of the rushing attempts.
Mark Ingram’s Signing
This is where it starts to get a little bit cloudy. Signing Ingram is a little bit confusing. He will turn 32 during the season, and really seemed to be past his best in just his second season in Baltimore. However, his signing is still significant given he has spent time with the head coach in Baltimore. What I’m currently expecting from Ingram is a headache. I’m projecting him to take the majority of the carries that are left, but I could see those carries being towards the goal-line. Hurting Johnson’s overall ceiling.
One thing that should help Johnson win the battle of the backfield is that he has consistently shown his ability in the passing game. Throughout his career, Ingram has only averaged around 2.4 targets per game to Johnson’s 4.8. Infact, I’d expect Johnson to increase his target share with Duke Johnson leaving the team (and his 35 targets from last season).
Overall Fantasy Impact
So, what is the fantasy impact of the crowd in Houston’s backfield? Personally, I’m still fine with Johnson. Currently he is at the back end of the third round or the 18th RB off the board. I’m sure that is going to drop slightly with this news, but I’m comfortable with the volume that he should still get in this offense. Ingram is likely to have some flex value in deeper leagues but is otherwise going to be limited to being a backup option.
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