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It's never too early to start preparing for your fantasy football drafts, and RotoBaller is here to help. In this series, two RotoBaller experts will discuss the merits of two players with similar value and average draft position (ADP). Remember that situations will change for all players over the course of the summer and it may impact where they are selected in drafts.

This article comes from RotoBaller's lead columnist Bill Dubiel (@Roto_Dubs) and featured writer Ben Ruppert (@Ben_Ruppert_21). Bill will defend Mark Ingram and his prospects in the still-dangerous New Orleans offense, while Ben extols the virtues of perennial fantasy superstar LeSean McCoy, who will once again lead the ground-and-pound Rex Ryan offense in Buffalo. Feel free to reach out to either or both with questions or opinions.

Editor's Note: RotoBaller has the best Premium NFL Subscription for only $1.99 per week. We have all the preseason tools to help win your drafts, and in-season tools to win your seasonal and daily leagues: Draft Kit, Premium Rankings, ADP Sleepers Tool, Matchup Ratings for every player, Daily DFS Cheat Sheets, Lineup Picks, Expert Lineups, Stacks and Avoids. 


Mark Ingram (RB, NO) - Bill Dubiel

The big-bodied (5'10", 215 lbs), bruising tailback for the New Orleans Saints was on his way to a career year in 2015 before his season was cut short by a torn rotator cuff. He made his presence known in the 12 games he did play in, averaging 64.1 yards per game on the ground and another 33.8 through the air. You don't typically see a player with his body type making a difference in the passing game, but Ingram did just that with an average of 4.2 catches per game. Total all of that up and you have one hell of a fantasy running back--Ingram finished as a top-15 standard back and a top-12 PPR back with only 12 total games played. Did I mention he only fumbled once all season?

Let's say he was healthy. Project those numbers out and you get 1,025 yards on the ground on 221 rushes, eight touchdowns, 540 yards through the air (on 66 catches). If those were in fact his numbers, he would have been the third-best overall running back in 2015, behind only Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson in standard and 0.5 PPR leagues. In a full PPR league, he's second behind Freeman. We will of course allow for some regression, but even if you lop 100 yards off in either category you're still looking at a top-five back.

Ingram will turn 27 during the 2016 season, meaning there is plenty of tread on the tires, and the Saints offense has a very real chance to be even better overall in 2016. Stud rookie Michael Thomas should make an immediate impact in the receiving corps with Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, and Drew Brees will continue to sling it around the yard as he has for the last decade. This ever-present threat should leave plenty of room up the middle for Ingram to do damage. Furthermore, the Saints defense isn't a whole lot better than last year, meaning that the Saints will play in plenty of shootouts. C.J. Spiller can't stay healthy, and even when he was on the field Ingram was the more productive receiving back. Ingram should continue to play the role of feature back, although he'll likely lose a few snaps to Travaris Cadet. Tim Hightower, the savior of many a fantasy season last year (including mine) is no more than a low-end handcuff.

Ultimately Ingram is an underrated feature back in a prolific offense who can be had for cheap (relatively speaking, of course). His ADP right now is around 23, which puts him in the late-second/early-third round. He's capable of being a top-five back, and makes for the ideal choice after snagging one or two stud wide receivers with your early picks.


LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF) - Ben Ruppert

After a season that saw him play in only 12 games, LeSean McCoy is underrated coming into the 2016 season. Currently being drafted as the 12th overall running back, Shady brings all aspects of the game together into one complete package. Last season he collected 1,192 yards from scrimmage with five scores, averaging 19.5 touches per game. McCoy has 10,261 yards from scrimmage through his age-27 season, which ranks 11th-highest all time. When Shady gets the ball in his hands, he knows how to make things happen. Of course, narratives will always get in the way on draft day:

“LeSean McCoy is another year older.”

“28 is the year running backs fall off the face of the earth.”

“No one has carried the ball more since his rookie season in 2009.”

While these are valid concerns, will not affect McCoy in the 2016 season. Shady doesn’t run with the pounding, bruising style that wears other running backs out. Watching him juke defenders out of their cleats is a thing of beauty, and he's still perfectly capable of doing it.

Let’s look at another Bills running back, Thurman Thomas. Both McCoy and Thomas are listed at 5’10”, played at a similar weight (between 210-215), and both were great at hitting holes and catching passes. In his age 28 season, Thomas collected 1,442 yards from scrimmage, while catching 50 passes. Outside of his rookie season, McCoy has topped 1,400 yards every year he has played at least 15 games. Plain and simple; if McCoy can stay healthy, he is going to be one of the most productive backs in the league. 45 running backs have topped 1,200 yards at age 28 or older. McCoy is extremely talented, and there is no reason he can’t be the 46th.

McCoy is currently the top back on the depth chart, followed by Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee, and rookie Jonathan Williams. Karlos Williams will take some short yardage carries and spell Shady on the field at times, but he hasn’t proven to be a factor in the passing game yet. The sophomore had some nice moments last season, but came into camp this season out of shape. Gillislee and Jonathan Williams will make minimal impacts as the third and fouth running backs. With quarterback Tyrod Taylor poised to take a step forward this season, it will open up running lanes for Shady to bust through. Over the past five seasons the Bills have averaged a top-10 rushing offense, and in 2015 they were ranked number one in the NFL. Until last season, this was done with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Talented backs, but McCoy is on a different level. The Bills are going to run the ball, and Shady is their clear-cut number one back.

McCoy is being drafted at #27 overall. If you can get him in the late second or early third round, you will be getting a solid, proven running back in one of the best rushing offenses in the league, who can also catch upwards of 50 passes. He will be able to put up big numbers in both PPR and standard scoring leagues.



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