Fantasy Football Projection Week 1: Chris Ivory


The fantasy football community is revving their engines, as the NFL season will begin tonight when the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots kickoff opening night. The rest of the teams will have to wait until Sunday to get things going, but fantasy football owners will be tinkering and fixing lineups even when games aren’t being played.

Also on Empire Writes Back: Top 10 Draft Picks In Jets’ History

For the New York Jets, they will be getting their season underway Sunday afternoon, hosting the Cleveland Browns. This may be an ugly one overall, as both teams rely on their defenses. That makes for a poor game from a fantasy football perspective, but there are still some players worth taking a look at in this game.

One of those players is Jets’ running back Chris Ivory. Ivory has been the topic of much discussion this offseason for fantasy owners, as the new coaching staff led by Todd Bowles has been talking him up a lot. Words like bellcow and featured back have been thrown around for Ivory, as he has been working hard to improve in the passing game. That has caused his average draft position to skyrocket over the summer, as people are buying into the hype.

More from Fantasy Football

But, if the preseason is any indication, that may not be the case. While Ivory is the clear-cut starter, that doesn’t mean that he will be an every down back. As it stands right now, it still looks like Bilal Powell will have a role offensively. Throughout the preseason, Ivory dominated the early down work, but would cede third down and passing work to Powell. Right now it looks like Powell has a real role and will limit the chances that Ivory will get.

While that may be the case for the long-term outlook, Week 1 is a totally different story. Against the Browns, the Jets will, and should, ride their running game to a win. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the Jets offense will be focused on the run. Also, their opponent should dictate that as well.

Last season the Browns gave up the eighth least passing yards per game, surrendering only 224.5 yards per game through the air. With Joe Haden, Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner patrolling the defensive backfield, the Browns were already a tough unit to throw the ball on. They will be even tougher this season with Tramon Williams taking over opposite of Haden at cornerback instead of Justin Gilbert, who looks like a colossal bust currently.

While the pass defense was one of the better ones in the league, the running defense was the polar opposite. The Browns ranked dead last in defending the run, giving up 141.6 yards per game. That should mean a heavy run game plan and plenty of touches for Ivory.

Last season the Browns were middle of the road in fantasy football, allowing the 14th most points per game to opposing running backs. The reason they weren’t worse was because they were relatively successful in keeping running backs out of the end zone, giving up only 10 on the ground all season, five of which game in two games.

Where the Browns really hemorrhaged points was in the yardage they allowed. That should be no different this season, at least in Week 1. With an above average matchup and a gameplan that will be in his favor, Ivory should comfortably fall in the RB2 picture, and push for RB1 numbers.

Projection: 115 rushing yards, one touchdown, three receptions for 25 yards

Next: Jets vs. Browns 5 Bold Predictions

More from Empire Writes Back