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Player Spotlight: Chris Ivory

A detailed look at Chris Ivory's fantasy prospects for 2013.

There are many who have long believed Chris Ivory had the talent to be a legitimate NFL starter (and fantasy stud) if he was ever given a clear shot. His chance is here asthe New York Jets traded for him; with just that very thing in mind.

Ivory has shown himself to be a very effective runner. While his totals the last two years aren't all that impressive on their own just (591 yards and 3 touchdowns), his yards per carry has been an impressive 5.1 yards per carry). Ivory runs tough, hits the hole hard and shows plenty of aggression when he comes into contact with defenders. While he can run over guys, he's also fast enough to run away from them as well. Ivory has broken plenty of long runs thus far in his career and should be able to do so this season behind a Jets offensive line which Pro Football Focus ranked 3rd overall in effectiveness and third in run blocking in 2012;A rating which could actually go up as Matt Slauson (31st ranked guard at Pro Football Focus, 56th ranked in run blocking) is now gone.

The problems with Ivory are twofold, one in terms of Ivory himself and the other relating to the situation he's in. Ivory is great when he's on the field but he is all too often injured, having played in just six games each of the last two seasons (last year battling a hamstring injury). You can't be the lead back if you can't stay on the field. Ivory is going to have to prove he's in the right kind of shape to take the beating which accompanies the role of lead back. Even if he does, even if he plays all 16 games, the other issue is the potentially historically bad Jets' offense.

The offensive line is fine, but the choice at quarterback is a concern (either an underperforming veteran or a raw rookie), the wide receivers are shaky (a grouchy old man in Santonio Holmes, a still developing Stephen Hill and a solid, but limited Jeremy Kerley) and the tight ends completely bereft of reliability (when Kellen Winlow's legs are your best bet at TE, you're in trouble). There are almost no other weapons for a defense to concern itself with, save for Ivory. So, he could very well see an Adrian Peterson level of stacked fronts in 2013. In which case, you could very well see the yards per carry drop pretty severely and the yards and touchdowns fall below expectations. He has the skill, but he also has some real hurdles to overcome.

Positives

  • Great skill-set, big upside
  • Easily best back in the backfield
  • Will be relied upon by a struggling offense

Negatives

  • Great yards per carry stat mitigated by minimal carries
  • Injured frequently
  • Few other offensive weapons will allow defenses to focus on him

Andrew Garda Projections

G RSH YDS TD REC REC YDS REC TDS
14 250 1125 7 15 120 0

Final Thoughts

Ivory's biggest challenge is staying healthy. He'll get the opportunity to carry the ball a lot and despite some stacked fronts, he should still find success. The other players in the backfield aren't really competition and the heavy lifting in an offense lacking other consistent playmakers leaves Ivory to do much of the heavy lifting. The problem is, with as bad as his health has been, it's impossible to fully trust Ivory as an RB1.

That said, Ivory has excellent value as a flex or RB2.

Right now there is a ton of hype, but once training camps begin and we see what the Jets have (or rather, don't) have to work with, it will cool off.

Given that, you can expect his ADP and value to come back down to earth. With the perception (completely justified) of the Jets' offense, his apparent value can be less than what his actual value is. Owners may avoid him and let him drop even past his current ADP (86 - RB32 as of June 20th), which only will increase his value.

If he manages to stay healthy for the entire season, he might even sneak up to value as a low end RB1, but for the most part you have to assume his usual spate of injuries, and hold him at no greater than RB2 value.

Other Perspectives

Shark Pool message board participant -- TheDirtyWord -- sees multiple pros and cons for the coming season

When I've seen Ivory run, I've been impressed. He runs with a ferocity and is tough to bring down. Working in Ivory's favor is an O-line that sports 2 blue chip talents in Ferguson and Mangold. Working against him would be the chance that he won't get supportive QB play near anything Turner got in 2008 when Matt Ryan was up to the task right off the bat. I remember how folks were not too high on Turner in 2008. According to FFC, he was the 20th RB off the board that year (Ivory is R23 currently). Despite the Jets season spiraling downward in 2012, they still ran the ball close to 500 times and I like Ivory a lot better than I liked Shonn Greene provided he can stay healthy. But Turner reached the heights he did because the Falcons committed to getting him the ball 25 times/game. So whatever upside Ivory has will have to depend on usage because like Turner, Ivory doesn't appear to offer much in the passing game. Could Ivory be a guy the Jets found a way to get 350 carries? I think that's a tad much, but 325 touches altogether sounds reasonable since they gave Shonn Greene 295 last year.


NFL.com's Michael Fabiano thinks Ivory can be a star with his first true featured back opportunity

Ivory will fill the role of departed starter Shonn Greene, who finished among the top 20 running backs in the league based on fantasy points last season while averaging a less-than-impressive 3.9 yards per carry. To put it simply, Ivory is a better back than Greene with youth on his side (he's 25). And now he'll have a chance to see 275-300 carries for the first time as an NFL back. While he will lose some third-down work to Mike Goodson, Ivory will be about as close to a featured runner as you can have in a league that has installed more committees in recent seasons.

I wouldn't hesitate to draft him in one of the first four- to five rounds as a No. 2 runner in 2013.

Allen Bassett of Pro Football Focus says Ivory has some heavy sleeper value

Simply looking at his 2012 stats, you'd see Chris Ivory rush 40 times in six games for an average of 5.4 yards per carry. While that is very good, his numbers get even better when going in depth. He had a missed tackle for every 3.23 carries, which ranked him third of all running backs, up from a missed tackle every 7.18 carries back in 2011. In addition, Ivory had a 15 yard or more run for every 13.3 carries, which ranked him at 14th among running backs. His points per snap came in at 0.55 which was fifth overall.

While having breakaway runs and missed tackles are important, his PFF Signature Stats tell a similar story. His elusive rating, which measures the ability of a running back beyond the help of blockers, topped out at 146.2. Ivory's yards after contact were 4.73. Both of these stats were the highest among any running back with at least 40 carries. He also graded at +3.9 PFF overall and +3.7 PFF rushing. Now Ivory moves to a Jets offense that has ranked second, 16th, and sixth the last three years respectively in rushing attempts as a team.


More from Andrew Garda:

Why Lacy is the best of the next guys at RB - August 14
A Fantasy Look at New York Giants Camp - August 7
Player Spotlight: Robert Griffin III - August 4
Player Spotlight: Frank Gore - July 17
Handle With Care: Determining the Value of Marcus Lattimore - June 11