Chris Ivory: Realistic Fantasy Expectations Following Breakout Performance

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 11, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 05:   Chris Ivory #29 of the New Orleans Saints avoids a tackle by  Mychal Kendricks #95 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 5, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Well that didn't take long. 

With Darren Sproles out for New Orleans' Week 10 clash with the Atlanta Falcons, Chris Ivory finally received an adequate opportunity to demonstrate his abilities in the backfield, and the results speak for themselves. 

One half into the Saints' game against the NFL's best team, Ivory been impressive, racking up 67 yards and a touchdown on just three carries, and considering how little the third-year back has been used, the best is yet to come for Ivory. 

No, Ivory shouldn't yet be considered a viable starting running back for fantasy owners, especially once Sproles returns, but he's certainly trending in the right direction. 

However, even when Sproles is healthy enough to play, Ivory is making a strong case for himself to be above Mark Ingram on the depth chart, because the undrafted back has simply been more effective than Ingram when given the chance to carry the mail. 

Following the first half of the Saints-Falcons game, Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab pointed out why Ivory should be getting more carries down the road. 

Ivory rushed for 716 yards and five touchdowns in 2010 in just 12 games (four starts), the year before the Saints picked Ingram. Ingram had 652 yards and six touchdowns in a season and a half coming into this week. New Orleans has compounded its mistake on draft day by playing the lesser player with the better draft status. That might change over the second half of the season as the Saints are reminded Ivory is the better player, despite being from Tiffin University instead of Alabama, going undrafted instead of being a first-round pick and not having a Heisman Trophy like Ingram does.

Ingram is obviously the guy the Saints hope grabs control of the No. 1 spot in the backfield, but until he starts contributing consistently, New Orleans has to ride Ivory if they have any intention of climbing back into the postseason race. 

Ivory's performance against a Super Bowl contender in the Falcons shows that the largely unheralded back has the ability to produce against anyone, and he will be taken more seriously by the Saints going forward. 

It'll take another strong performance or two for Ivory to start receiving consistent carries, but he's well on his way to being a featured back in the Saints offense.