In fantasy football, owners tend to often search for that next big thing, salivating over the shiny new toys. In this case, the shiny new toys are the new guys, the rookies. Of course, comparing 2013’s rookies to last year’s is like comparing Pepsi and the name brand at your local grocery store. Sure, the name brand is satisfying, but it’s not as exciting as seeing that fresh bottle of Pepsi in your fridge. Okay, now I’m thirsty.
Anyway, despite not having the appeal of the 2012 draft class, there are still a handful of relevant fantasy rookies in 2013, one of which is Green Bay Packers running back, Eddie Lacy. A month or so ago, Lacy was my third-ranked rookie back, behind guys like Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball. However, with Bell sidelined with a Lisfranc injury and Ball’s struggles in pass protection hinting towards a committee approach, Lacy now surges to the top. Of course, there were some concerns with Lacy as well. The injury history during his time at Alabama and an oddly-angled picture where Lacy may or may not have resembled Big Foot. So, what should fantasy owners expect out of Lacy in his inaugural campaign? Let’s take a look.
Lacy is a bruising back. At 5’11”, 230 lbs, the rookie makes for an ideal short yardage back, but also has some very underrated elusiveness. I mean, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times he made a killer spin move to avoid a defender in college. He may be the first back Green Bay has had since Ahman Green to be considered a workhorse style of runner. No, Lacy isn’t an ideal pass-catching back, but he is serviceable. Lacy is always looking to get those extra yards, powering his way through the opposition at all times. Again, he is a tremendous short yardage back, which could bode well for his production in a high-powered offense like the Packers. Of course, fantasy owners may worry about his durability. Lacy had a strong workload during his time at Alabama, and as a result, has dealt with toe and hamstring injuries. If you go back and watch his performance during the BCS National Championship game, you know how dominant of a runner Lacy can be.
When Lacy was first drafted, I was thrilled for his fantasy outlook. Being the soon-to-be starter in an offense that will find themselves in the red zone a ton, what’s not to like? However, Green Bay crushed my dreams by also selecting Johnathan Franklin out of UCLA, which had the signs of a committee situation. Fast forward to the present time, and Franklin has been very unimpressive and DuJuan Harris has suffered an apparent knee injury, which could pave the way for Lacy to be the lead back. Of course, running backs out of Green Bay were dormant in fantasy land last season. The unimpressive trio of Harris, Cedric Benson and Alex Green combined for a measly 869 rushing yards. Green Bay hasn’t been a very running back friendly environment for fantasy football over the years. In fact, in 2012, when the Packers were inside the five-yard line, they handed it off to their running backs just four times. And as a unit, the team scored just nine rushing touchdowns, one of which went to John Kuhn while two more were compliments of Aaron Rodgers. Will that change with Lacy in the building? I would imagine it should. Lacy is the best goal line back they’ve had in years, and despite Rodgers often taking off and running, that was more of a product of the plays breaking down. And while Green Bay hasn’t exactly been a favorable destination for fantasy backs, that isn’t to say there haven’t been any productive backs in this system. Back in 2009, Ryan Grant was the number eight fantasy running back, and in both 2002 and 2004, Ahman Green was a top-15 option. I think Green Bay wants to feature more of a running game, especially after drafting two running backs in April. They’ll give Lacy every opportunity up close.
As of right now, Lacy is in the best situation to provide immediate fantasy production. Playing alongside Rodgers and company, he probably won’t be a strong contender for 1,000 yards, but that offense will give him plenty of opportunity to fall into the end zone, which, if you watched Michael Turner at all last season, you know that scoring alone can make you very fantasy relevant. Double digit touchdowns are most definitely in the realm of possibility, but I’d prefer to own Lacy as my flex, rather than an RB2.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.