Fantasy Football 2014: Giovani Bernard vs. Eddie Lacy
If you look at the top three running backs in fantasy football for the 2012-13 season of Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte, you notice that they were all heavily involved in the passing game for their respective teams. Much like Cam Newton having the ability to amass yards like a running back, the pass catching ability of running backs allow fantasy players to own dual threats who can produce great numbers.
After his concussion in the early part of the season, Eddie Lacy ended up taking the league by storm. He finished sixth at running back for fantasy football in standard scoring leagues, and he mainly accumulated his point total from pure rushing yards. Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards on the season and he scored 11 rushing touchdowns. These numbers are very strong for a running back, but the lack of involvement in the passing game has raised some red flags for my 2014 fantasy draft. Lacy finished the season with 257 receiving yards and he only averaged 17.1 receiving yards a game. If defenses are able to figure out how to shut Lacy down in the running game next season, he will not be able to redeem himself in the passing game. This could really hurt his fantasy value, and you could see Lacy face the dreaded sophomore slump if defenses do in fact learn how to contain his rushing attack.
Despite being placed in a time share, I still like the fact that Giovani Bernard was able to finish his rookie season as a top 20 running back. While Lacy scored 11 touchdowns from just rushing the ball, Bernard was able to score a total of eight touchdowns between his receiving and rushing ability. When Bernard touches the ball, he is able to make plays because of his size and speed. Bernard only averaged 43.4 rushing yards a game, but he did average 32.1 receiving yards a game as well. If he is able to become even more involved in the passing game next season, I think Bernard has the opportunity to finish as a top 10 back.
Lacy is similar to Adrian Peterson in the fact he is a pretty much a pure rushing running back. This doesn’t mean that I think that Lacy is any less talented because of his lack of involvement in the passing game, but it does cause me concern if I was to draft him this upcoming season. I think many fantasy owners will overreach for Lacy, and they will end up wishing that they drafted a running back like Bernard with pass catching ability.