The 2012 fantasy football season will be remembered for a handful of reasons. Adrian Peterson stole the show with an unprecedented climb back to his elite status by almost breaking the single-season rushing record, not to be outdone by Calvin Johnson who actually broke the single-season record for receiving yards. Robert Griffin III put his dynamic skills on display and Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning once again.
However, the single most memorable aspect of the 2012 fantasy season going forward had to be the swarm of rookie running backs that took over the fantasy world.
In 2011, the top rookie running back was DeMarco Murray who contributed the 30th most fantasy points at the position. 2012 saw three running backs in the top 11, none of whom were selected in the top 11 in the average fantasy football draft.
Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson burst onto the fantasy scene, each with over 1,000 total yards and 12+ touchdowns.
The trend for rookies making a fantasy impact was well documented across the quarterback and running back positions. As rookies continue to take on immediate roles in the NFL, it is important to clearly project who has the skills and the opportunity to rise to the top.
The 2012 draft class is thin at the running back position but features a few diamonds in the rough that may become the next in line as a rookie contributor. The leader of this new regime is Eddie Lacy out of Alabama. Lacy shined in the spotlight by delivering 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the National Championship game and then went on to declare his eligibility for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Lacy is a versatile back that does everything well but nothing spectacularly. His combination of speed and size, when paired with his impressive set of open-field moves, make him an asset to NFL teams and fantasy owners. He runs the 40-yard-dash in the 4.5 range which is sufficient for a 220-lb back.
Perhaps his most appealing traits are his vision and his ability to pass block. What he lacks in high-end speed, Lacy makes up for with his patience when allowing holes to develop and his ability to hit them in an instant with a quick burst. His capability as a blocker and his consistent hands out of the backfield will allow Lacy to stay on the field as an every-down back.
Lacy is currently projected as a second-round pick that may see his stock rise after he shows off his talents at the NFL Combine.
If he lands in the right situation, he could immediately take over as team’s feature back and become the 2013 version of Martin, Morris or his former Alabama teammate, Richardson.