After averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 278 attempts during a three-year stretch with the New Orleans Saints, Ivory spent the past three seasons as the New York Jets' lead back. He picked a convenient year for a breakout, busting loose for 1,287 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns on 277 touches. Ivory finished seventh among running backs in fantasy points in 2015.
Ivory heads to Jacksonville, where he will form a committee with second-year back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon missed three games last season, but was effective in a workhorse role when active during his rookie campaign. He racked up 1,019 yards and three touchdowns on 218 touches. Despite a lack of opportunities near the goal line -- he carried the ball four times within 3 yards of the end zone -- Yeldon was 11th (eighth in PPR) among running backs in fantasy points during the 12 weeks he was active.
Yeldon is often criticized for his struggles in short yardage, but the sample here is absurdly small. He was asked to carry the ball only four times on third or fourth down with fewer than 3 yards to gain. Ivory recorded 16 attempts in these situations last year and managed a grand total of 6 yards. Whether it was a lack of volume or effectiveness, neither had much success in the area.
Despite the lack of short-yardage production, both Ivory and Yeldon excel when it comes to eluding tacklers. Per Pro Football Focus research, Ivory ranked fourth in the league with 47 avoided tackles last season (one for every 5.26 attempts). Yeldon ranked ninth with 34 (one per every 5.35).
Ivory will be moving from Chan Gailey's spread offense to a more conventional offense in Jacksonville. In fact, last season, Jets running backs faced a base defense on just 42 percent of their carries (seventh lowest in the league). On the other hand, Jaguars backs saw a base defense 59 percent of the time (12th highest). This is notable, as Ivory averaged only 3.7 YPC on 118 attempts against base defenses last season. Yeldon averaged a healthy 4.3 YPC on 113 such attempts.
The Jaguars have a lot of cap room and had a major void behind Yeldon on the depth chart. This signing is a great one for them, but not for the fantasy crowd -- this eliminates one of only a few potential workhorse running backs. Expect a near-even timeshare out of the gate this season, with Ivory handling a good chunk of the goal line work. Both players are solid, but not great, pass-catchers. Ivory is a significantly better blocker, which gives him a leg up on third down.
Yeldon is the incumbent back; he's only 22 years old and played well as a rookie. He's the preferred fantasy back and could separate himself from the 28-year-old Ivory during the 2016 regular season. Although Yeldon's season may get off to a slow start, he's the better bet of the two to emerge as the feature back during the season. Both belong in the flex conversation and will be excellent mid-round targets, especially if you wait at the running back position.