|Gary A. Vasquez / NFL|
|Rookie running back Mark Ingram could become the workhorse in a crowded, yet talented, Saints backfield.|
Who will emerge as the best fantasy option in the Saints' backfield?
These economic times are supposed to be tough on everyone, but the rich got richer when the Saints landed running back Mark Ingram with the 28th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. New Orleans already had selected defensive end Cameron Jordan at pick No. 24, then traded with the Patriots to tab Ingram.
Even before the draft, the Saints had a wealth of talent: There aren't many missing parts when you win a Super Bowl one year and return to the playoffs the next. But if New Orleans had a weak link on offense the last couple of years, it's a hard-nosed, between-the-tackles runner to move the chains on third-and-short or to score near the goal line.
Ingram immediately becomes the favorite to take over that role-and to be the Saints' most valuable fantasy back.
At first glance, the backfield situation in New Orleans appears overstocked with Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory and Lynell Hamilton. But Thomas, Ivory and Hamilton all are coming off surgery, and Bush -- if he returns to the club -- is a completely different back than Ingram and has long since proved that he is not suited to a short-yardage role.
The Saints paid a steep price to get Ingram -- they sent a second-round pick in 2011 and a first-rounder in 2012 to New England -- so they aren't likely to let him languish on the bench. And while quarterback Drew Brees still will produce most of the team's scoring through the air, there should be enough scraps left over for Ingram to forge some fantasy value.
Bottom line: Ingram is the best of the fantasy runners in New Orleans-although in New Orleans, all fantasy players take a back seat to Drew Brees.