Signed as a free agent to shore up a struggling ground game, Ivory never truly found his footing after beginning the season on the shelf with an undisclosed injury. The idea was that Ivory and T.J. Yeldon would form a dynamic tandem, but neither running back was productive, and Ivory reached the 50-yard plateau just once in 11 games. While both Ivory and Yeldon are still in the fold, both backs' futures could be in jeopardy after Jacksonville selected Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft. All signs point to Fournette being the featured back, with Ivory and Yeldon likely to battle for No. 2 status throughout camp.
While Ivory didn't post pinball numbers in 2015, he did come through with a career year at an appropriate time — his contract season. He set career marks in just about every meaningful counting star, and was efficient on a per-play basis. He also managed to stay on the field more often than not despite his violent rushing style — Ivory is one of those backs who seems to relish extra contact. And although his TDs oddly dried up in the second half of the year, he did his best work over the final two months (4.8 YPC). The Jaguars were paying attention, and came running with a five-year, $32 million contract . Ivory would easily be a top-20 back on our board if not for the presence of T.J. Yeldon, the second-year runner in Jacksonville. This is obviously going to be some sort of a timeshare, and while Ivory is the obvious preference for goal-line work (and maybe clock-killing work as well), Yeldon probably has an easier path to overall snaps. And Ivory was capable as a receiver last year(30 grabs, 81-percent catch rate), but the Jets and Saints were reluctant to use him as a three-down back in previous years. Touchdowns and efficiency seem like a good bet with Ivory, but be realistic about the expected volume — so long as nothing happens to Yeldon between now and opening day.
Ivory's second season with the Jets was slightly better than his first, as he stayed healthy and earned the team's trust as a three-down back. A solid 6-0, 222, Ivory uses his vision, power and burst to attack the line of scrimmage and crash through to the second level, and he ranked third in the league last season with 13 carries inside the five-yard line. After years of being all but ignored in the passing game, Ivory also proved he could contribute as a receiver, with his modest 27 targets more than tripling his career total. While speed and elusiveness were never his biggest assets, Ivory may have lost a step last year as his only run of more than 20 yards came in Week 1. An ineffective passing game and stacked defensive fronts might have played a role, but Ivory managed eight runs of 20 or more yards in 2013 under similar circumstances. New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was brought in to revamp the passing attack, and he prefers a zone-blocking scheme on the ground, which should play to Ivory's strengths. Even with Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy now competing for touches, Ivory's floor seems fairly secure.
A tremendously physical, downhill runner with big-play ability at 6-foot, 222, Ivory is coming off his healthiest NFL campaign, as he set career highs in games played, rushing attempts and yards. The acquisition of Chris Johnson will at least initially limit him to a backup/timeshare role in 2014, and hamper his production.
The very speedy Ivory has been a productive runner in his career, with a 4.9 YPC, but has carried just 438 times in his four seasons – much of that coming last year. Though healthy now, he's been susceptible to the injury bug throughout his career, and his fantasy utility in PPR leagues is severely limited by his limitations in the receiving game – he's caught just five balls in his career.
This year's most likely scenario has Johnson taking over most of the three-down duty while Ivory gets mixed in for short-yardage situations and goal-line touches, where he's showed some good potential in limited duty during his career. With the Jets' improved offense, Ivory could approach double-digit touchdowns if he gets the opportunities.
In three seasons in New Orleans, injuries and a crowded backfield limited Ivory to 24 games and 256 carries. When he was on the field, though, he displayed good instincts, initial burst and the strength to shed tacklers. His career 5.1 YPC is indicative of his upside, and when injuries forced him to be the lead back as a rookie in 2010, Ivory excelled, leading the Saints in rushing.
At 6-0, 222, he's the Jets' biggest back and is the odds-on favorite to start over Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell. For a team that wants to "ground and pound," Ivory brings the downhill style that fits the bill. Don't expect much through the air from him, however – Ivory's caught just three balls in his entire career.
Ivory was useful at times last season when injuries struck New Orleans’ backfield and has a career 5.0 YPC mark. A north-south hard runner between the tackles with deceptive speed, Ivory would be interesting if he’s ever given an opportunity as lead back, even if he struggles as a receiver. For now, he’s stuck as a fourth stringer on the Saints’ depth chart, behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas.
Ivory impressed as an undrafted rookie, who was thrust into action unexpectedly, thanks to numerous injuries to New Orleans’ backfield. He averaged 5.2 YPC on the year and scored five touchdowns over a three-game stretch. He offers nothing as a receiver, however, and should enter 2011 as the team’s RB3 at best, with the addition of rookie Mark Ingram and the return of Pierre Thomas. There’s not a clear path for carries, but coach Sean Payton can be unpredictable, so Ivory shouldn’t be completely overlooked, particularly with Ingram's relative inexperience and Thomas' injury history.
Ivory will compete for a position as a reserve running back, but, as an undrafted free agent, will have to hurdle a number of more experienced players to secure a roster spot.