Punch Drunk Wonderland

Will 2015 Be Chris Ivory’s Breakout Season?

In 2014 I really got it wrong predicting that Chris Johnson would bounce back big for the Jets. I had the wrong Chris. Going into the 2015 season it’s Chris Ivory that we should be considering. The pieces are in place for him to be a big contributor. Will this be his big year. Our friends at numberFire have taken a look. Enjoy.

It’s not everyday that you find a top-tier running back near the back end of your fantasy football draft. Hell, it doesn’t even happen once per season.

When our Editor-In-Chief JJ Zachariason did a five year study between 2009-2013 to look at running back hit and miss rates, he found that, out of the 90 running backs ranked 31st to 48th by ADP in each season, only four became bonafide RB1s.

That’s it. Four.

So rare is this feat, in fact, that you probably have a better chance of guessing which San Francisco 49er will be the next to unexpectedly quit, retire, or get himself cut from the team.

But I digress.

It’s this rarity of finding a high level running back in the later rounds of the draft that is exactly why I took notice when word surfaced that the Jets may be grooming running back Chris Ivory to be an every-down back. As the 34th-ranked running back in 12-team, standard-scoring leagues, as we’ll soon discuss, Ivory may be that rare talent that could see himself catapult into elite running back territory this season if given the opportunity.

Built Like a Workhorse Back

Reports out of Jets camp suggest that head coach Todd Bowles is already impressed by what he’s seen out of tailback Chris Ivory, saying that “he’s as advertised,” and that “he can easily [be an every-down back].”

And this isn’t the first time we’ve heard such high praise for Ivory. Often drawing comparisons to All-Pro tailback Marshawn Lynch, his measurables are eerily similar to that of the man they call “Beast Mode” in Seattle.

Year Name Hght Wght 40 yd Vert Broad 3Cone 20 ss
2007 Marshawn Lynch 5′ 11″ 215 4.46 35½” 125″ 4.58
2010 Chris Ivory 5′ 11½” 222 4.48 36″ 119″ 7.2 4.6

A few pounds heavier than Lynch and with nearly identical 40-yard dash times to the Seahawks tailback, Ivory is a freakish combination of size and speed. And while his agility scores were sub-par compared to the shiftier backs in the league, elusiveness isn’t really his game.

While he certainly has the footwork and balance to maneuver his way through the right hole on running plays, Ivory would much rather run through you than around you.

This bears out in the number of broken and missed tackles Ivory forced last season. Despite owning just the 18th most touches among all running backs last season, Ivory’s 33 broken tackles according to Football Outsiders was the eighth-best figure at his position.

And if the Jets make good on their promise to make Ivory their workhorse back, similar to Marshawn Lynch, Ivory could use his bruising style to help wear down opponents late in games to break off some big runs.

However, there are limits to Ivory’s upside. Despite a flashy offseason that saw the Jets acquire veteran receiver Brandon Marshall and the hiring of quarterback guru Chan Gailey to develop Geno Smith, the Jets have failed to upgrade their offensive line.

But running behind the 19th-ranked run blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus last season, the Jets’ question marks on their offensive line actually makes Ivory the ideal back for this squad. His hard-nosed style will be just what this team needs to churn out steady yards in the ground game and on this note, this same style of play is what made Lynch the fourth-leading rusher in the league despite running behind a run blocking unit that ranked 17th in the league last year.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


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