Fantasy Football is one of the most unpredictable, annoying, maddening, frustrating, teasing games that man has ever created in the history of the world.
And I love every minute of it.
Because it’s so unpredictable, making correct preseason calls seems more like a miracle than ever before. However, for as many bad calls as fantasy analysts make, they are due for at least one good one.
Thank you, Zac Stacy.
One of the more overlooked rookies to come out of this year’s draft class, Stacy was on my love list heading into the season. I wrote numerous articles breaking down his underrated game, and why I believed he would eventually become the starting running back for the Rams. Through the first few weeks of the season, Stacy was buried on the depth chart, thanks to a rather weak preseason. However, with Daryl Richardson struggling, Stacy was named the starting running back during Week 5. So far, he’s wasted no time proving that he deserves the title, averaging a solid 70 rushing yards per contest during his last three. Piggybacking off what I stated in the beginning of the year, Stacy won’t really wow you when running the ball, but he can do a little bit of everything. Let me remind you of what I liked about his game after watching some film.
I’m not an NFL scout by any means, but I do enjoy watching film from time to time, and I like to think I know what I’m talking about. Or at least remotely. Anyway, from watching Stacy, he is an incredibly patient runner. He waits for the holes to present themselves, uses his lead blockers to his advantage and then bursts through the gap. Stacy is a smart, decisive runner. He takes what’s given and sometimes even senses a hole before it opens. Below, you will see Stacy take a screen for what appears to be a major loss on the play.
Looks discouraging, right? However, Stacy is such an intelligent runner, he avoids the trouble. Rather than circling around, like many runners do, Stacy makes an array of impressive cuts (another area of strength) and takes what he can get, which turns out to be a lot. The LeSean McCoy runners may be more exciting, but Stacy’s intelligence and football I.Q. allow him to constantly gain positive yards.
An impressive turn of events on that play from Stacy, who showcased his cutting ability. None of his moves will shake an opposing defender by any means, but he simply knows how to run the football. There’s nothing flashy about his game, which is why he was so overlooked with explosive guys like Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson coming out of the draft with him. Speed isn’t his thing, but he is a powerful back. Reminiscent of a guy like Doug Martin, with less explosiveness, Stacy will always fight for the extra yard, and will refuse to go down without a fight. The comparison makes sense, too. Jonathan Bales did a wonderful job breaking down Stacy’s game way back in March. A direct quite from his terrific piece follows:
“Zac Stacy: 5’9″, 216 pounds, 3,143 yards, 5.4 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.70 three-cone drill, 4.17 short-shuttle, 27 reps.
Player X- 5’9″, 215 pounds, 3,431 yards, 5.6 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.79 three-cone drill, 4.16 short shuttle, 28 reps.”
Player X just so happened to be Martin.
As for his toughness, it may be a bit difficult to see, but that’s Stacy being dragged down by about four defenders.
Another example of his balance of power and toughness is extremely evident in this next clip.
And even though he only caught nine balls during his senior year in 2012, Stacy can catch the ball out of the backfield pretty well. You saw that he can make plays in open space in the clip from earlier, but Stacy has soft hands, has the ability to make plays after the catch, and we saw that on Sunday, as Stacy caught four balls for 34 yards and a score. During his time at Vanderbilt, he also operated out of the Wildcat formation quite a bit, showing that he is a versatile back. Honestly, he doesn’t do one particular thing better than anyone, but he does every single thing well. He has every-down back potential from here on out, and fantasy owners should get used to hearing his name.
The news that Sam Bradford is now out for the year certainly hurts his immediate value. St. Louis’ receivers were already struggling, so without a competent quarterback throwing them the ball, opposing defenses may dial in on slowing down Stacy. Still, since taking over the job, Stacy is averaging a reasonable 11.5 fantasy points per game. And over the last two weeks, he is averaging a healthy 20.5 touches per contest. Volume plus talent = fantasy success, and that formula has held true for Stacy as of late. Considering he is such a strong short-yardage runner, if he were to land in the right situation to see the red zone a lot, Stacy would be a top-20 fantasy back, not a doubt in my mind.
I’m pretty darn high on this kid, folks.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.