Chris Ivory: Updated Fantasy Outlook and Analysis for Saints RB

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent INovember 11, 2012

November 5, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory (29) against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Ivory has become an intriguing part of the New Orleans Saints offense. And that 56-yard touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons proves his value to Drew Brees' offense.

Yes, the team still revolves around Brees and the passing game. But every offense needs a stud Brahma Bull to slam on the ground and Ivory is just that guy for New Orleans.

Also, according to WWLTV in New Orleans last week:

“He’s one of those unique backs that can make the first guy miss or he can run over him,” acting Saints head coach Joe Vitt said. “He’s grown as a back. He’s more secure in the offense. Obviously, we trust him as a back. We like Chris. It was exciting to see him run well.”

Because of Brees' passing threat, the Saints never face a stacked box when needing to run the ball. Certainly most opponents blitz to pressure Brees and slow down the aerial onslaught, but Ivory is part of an exclusive approach that allows consistently favorable matchups.

That said, let's check out Ivory's fantasy forecast as the 2012 season progresses.


Previous Impact

In 2010, Ivory averaged 5.2 yards per carry and collected 716 rushing yards with five touchdowns. Those numbers led the Saints across the rushing offense spectrum and he also received 54 more carries than the next player: Pierre Thomas with 83.

Rewind back to 2011 and Ivory's contributions were reduced by comparison. Still, the big back compiled 374 yards on 79 attempts, which averages to 4.7 per rush. Unfortunately, he was drastically overlooked by other backs such as Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram in addition to Thomas.

So, heading into 2012 it was reasonable to expect little from Ivory. Well, literally nothing happened until the Monday night matchup versus the Philadelphia Eagles. There, Ivory saw his first game action of this season and delivered with 50 total yards and one touchdown.

By no means was that overly dominant production, but his impact helped New Orleans get a win. Now, he's certainly playing a stronger role and becoming viable running back depth in fantasy. Just ask the Falcons.

Best Situations to Contribute

Ivory's size frame of 6', 222 pounds bodes well in any short-yard situation. That also translates well into being a competitive advantage when the Saints are inside the red zone.

As opposed to constantly relying on Brees to thread a needle when a defense tightens up coverage, hitting between the tackles can catch anyone off guard. After all, facing a quarterback of Brees' caliber, every defense is right to play the pass first regardless of the field position and situation.

So just from a chess-match perspective, Ivory getting carries with receivers spreading a defense out expands New Orleans' playbook. The play-action pass increases its relevance and only makes this offense more dangerous.

Even better, Ivory suits well in two-back sets alongside Thomas and Ingram.

Both are dual threats capable of contributing on screens and checkdowns, which removes attention from Ivory up the gut. Even if given limited carries, putting the power back in varying formations will result in big runs more often than not.

What Remaining Schedule Dictates

After the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, New Orleans has other tough matchups versus the San Francisco 49ers, Falcons again in Week 13 on a short week, the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.

Ivory's backfield presence is simply required for the Saints to remain in the postseason hunt. San Francisco, New York and Tampa are all solid at stuffing the run, but Ivory will be needed to take pressure off the passing game.

Against playoff-contending teams, the Saints can't afford to be one-dimensional, and play-action becomes vital. Although we can't expect extreme numbers against those defenses, Ivory can still be a backup flex option.

As we've seen in Week 10, he will move well against Atlanta on the ground, and other teams like Dallas, the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers are suspect up front as well. In short, get Ivory for running back depth as his contributions are imperative for New Orleans to keep its January hopes alive.


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