Fullback is a dying position in the NFL, and Raiders fullback Marcel Reece is one of the few who remain heavily involved in a team’s offense.
Reece is already one of the most productive fullbacks in the NFL, so how can he be a breakout candidate?
The Raiders don’t have a proven weapon at tight end, and new quarterback Matt Flynn is going to need a reliable player to catch passes on third down. It makes sense for the Raiders to keep Reece on the field as much as possible, which means using more two-back personnel sets.
It’s entirely possible the Raiders may use two running backs and three wide receivers with no tight ends (20 personnel) instead of the popular personnel grouping that involves one running back and one tight end (11 personnel).
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Reece was targeted 57 times in 2012, 16 more times than any other fullback, but Oakland’s tight end last year—Brandon Myers—was targeted 101 times, and only three tight ends were targeted more. That’s a lot of targets to divvy up, and Reece is the most logical beneficiary.
The Raiders also don’t have a lot of talent, but Reece is a matchup nightmare for linebackers. Figuring out how to keep Reece on the field more than 60 percent of the time and giving him more opportunities just makes sense.
New offensive coordinator Greg Olson was profuse in his praise for Reece upon being hired by the Raiders. Olson praised Reece’s ability to run and lead block, as well as his skills as a receiver, via Steve Corkran of ibabuzz.com:
He does have tremendous speed. He has very good hands. He has loose hips. He can run some of those option, choice routes that are matchup nightmares for defensive players.
Option routes are often run by the tight end, and if Olson is serious about adjusting the offense to his players, giving Reece more opportunities only makes sense. More opportunities should translate to big-time production from Reece and a breakout year that makes him a household name.