New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram owners were furious in Week 8 after he was benched in the first quarter following a fumble against the Seahawks. That opened the door for more Tim Hightower. Fortunately, most people went back to Ingram the next week since the matchup was against a putrid 49ers run defense and Ingram didn't need high volume to produce. It turned out that way as Ingram had 15 carries for 158 yards with a touchdown and two catches for 13 yards with a score. Ingram followed with 13 touches against the Broncos, 10 against the Panthers in a game he left early due to a concussion and he had 15 touches last week against the Rams. Since Week 8, Ingram has 47 carries for 382 yards, an average of 8.1 yards per carry and eight catches for 94 yards with a score. Despite that great efficiency, Hightower has more touches in the last four games. On the ground, Hightower has 58 carries for 228 yards, a 3.9 average. Hightower has 13 catches for 160 yards with a score in that span. Hightower has at least 17 touches in three of the last four games. Clearly, Ingram is better, but Hightower is not going away. It's frustrating for Ingram owners, but he's still producing and this is an explosive offense, especially at home. Ingram is a RB2 most weeks, while Hightower is a low-end RB2.
It feels like we have been waiting for the emergence of Kenneth Dixon since the beginning of the season. Dixon is slowly working himself into a bigger role but is still stuck in a timeshare with Terrance West. Dixon has seen his snap count rise each week. Over the last four weeks, he has seen his snap count at 29 percent, 32 percent, 38 percent and 45 percent. Dixon played more snaps than West for the first time this season in Week 12. Dixon played 31 snaps compared to 23 for West. Dixon had 13 carries for 49 yards four catches for 31 yards on four targets. West had 13 carries for 48 yards and three catches for 16 yards. Dixon is the better back catching passes out of the backfield. Since the Week 8 bye, Dixon has 11, 11, six and 17 touches, while West has 16, 22, nine and 16. Neither back has been great, but Dixon is the one to have going forward, although it's difficult to start him with confidence yet.
Just when we were confident in Chris Ivory, he gets injured. It sums up the Jaguars running game this season. Counting on anyone has been difficult. T.J. Yeldon was active last week despite not practicing with an ankle injury. Ivory was off to a great start against the Bills last week with nine carries for 44 yards and a touchdown with an 11-yard catch before leaving with a hamstring injury. Ivory was becoming a reliable option with 19, 11 and 23 touches from Weeks 9 to 11 and was well on his way to a big workload last week. The Jaguars have wanted to establish more balance with the change in offensive coordinators and were running more. With no update on Ivory, it could be Yeldon and Denard Robinson if Ivory is out this week. Ivory has been a Top 24 running back in three of the last four weeks, so if he's healthy, he's the better back in the backfield. If he sits, Yeldon will see a bigger workload and is in play.
This might be the backfield that has caused the most ulcers this season. One week it's Ryan Mathews, then it's Darren Sproles with Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner sprinkled in. The problem for fantasy players is it has been difficult to predict. There has been no pattern to the usage. With Ryan Mathews sidelined last week with a knee injury, many were excited to use Wendell Smallwood. Sproles was active and played with a rib injury. Smallwood looked good last week against the Packers, but he didn't get a big workload. Smallwood nine carries for 37 yards and one catch for 10 yards. The Eagles were playing from behind the entire second half, and that led to more Sproles, who had three carries for six yards and caught five passes for 48 yards on seven targets. Sproles is going to be the better play most weeks, especially in PPR formats. Mathews did not practice Wednesday, and with his injury history, he could miss more time. The excitement for Smallwood needs to be tempered if Mathews is out.