This season has been brutal for running backs, at least in the fantasy football realm. But one back is coming on strong lately, and he plays in Green Bay.
Eddie Lacy has been heating up over the past two weeks, rushing for 219 yards against the Lions and Ravens combined. He has entered the collective consciousness of the fantasy football world thirsting for some stability at the running back position.
The Packers are one Eddie Lacy yard away last week from having a 100yd rusher in 4 straight games..— trey wingo (@wingoz) October 13, 2013
My girlfriend drafted Eddie Lacy in the first round in fantasy this year. I made fun of her. I drafted CJ Spiller. Joke's on me.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) October 13, 2013
Eddie Lacy with a nice start. He doesn't have "long speed" but 47 yards on the first two carries is nice.— zach_law (@zach_law) October 13, 2013
Eddie Lacy is off and running. Runs for 10, then 37. Blocks from Sitton, Bakhtiari parted the sea for the rookie.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) October 13, 2013
Can he be trusted? After all, he is late to the party. When was the last time we could trust a Packers running back for the long haul?
For the answer to that, you have to go all the way back to 2009, when Ryan Grant roamed the backfield.
Actually, Lacy is only late to the party because of Washington safety Brandon Meriweather. The headhunter knocked Lacy out of the Week 2 game with a vicious, concussion-inducing blow to the helmet. Had Lacy avoided injury, he might have been the one running all over Washington in Week 2 and beyond.
But even before that, Lacy had an excellent output in Week 1 with 72 total yards and a touchdown in his debut. He was a forgotten man after his Week 2 injury, resurfacing these past two weeks.
What makes him go?
Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen put out an excellent film study that would put any other attempts to shame. He described Lacy as such in the study:
Lacy’s vision and cutback ability stand out in my tape study. The rookie can work the inside zone, one-back power, lead draw or the trap. That allows him to display his footwork in the hole, find running lanes and square his pads to the line of scrimmage.
This forces opposing defenses to play with gap responsibility and to show discipline in their backside contain techniques. That’s a plus versus defenses that overpursue to the ball.
Bowen goes on to break down all the different ways Lacy has beaten opposing defenses thus far this season.
Indeed, Lacy put those skills on display last week against the Ravens, gashing a good run defense for 120 yards on the ground.
Of course, skill is only a part of the equation. Cardinals rookie running back Andre Ellington looks far more talented than running-mate Rashard Mendenhall, but he is languishing in a timeshare. Bengals running back Giovani Bernard finds himself in the same situation with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Talent is no guarantee of production, a problem in the fantasy realm. That's where Lacy has the advantage here—he stands virtually alone in the Packers backfield.
That is, of course, a product of divine intervention as much as his demand for playing time. DuJuan Harris and James Starks have been knocked out for the season, leaving fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin as his main competition.
Are you buying Eddie Lacy?
Apparently the Green Bay brass thinks Franklin needs more seasoning before getting on the field more. Lacy played 60 snaps to Franklin's four last week. That disparity was up from Week 5, when Lacy had 58 snaps and Franklin had just seven.
From the looks of things, Lacy has won himself the workhorse gig.
At this point, there is no reason to believe Lacy is going to fall on his face. He is averaging a healthy 4.4 yards per carry—5.0 over the past two games.
The Packers have displayed a commitment to running the ball they haven't shown in recent years. A running back had carried the ball 21 or more times in a single game just four times since 2009 heading into this season.
Lacy has gotten the rock 23 times in consecutive games.
Eventually, Lacy will start to get the ball around the end zone. He has had some bad luck in that regard during the past two weeks—the Packers scored just one touchdown, a 64-yard bomb last week, for example—but he will prove himself in the red zone once he gets those opportunities.
If, for some reason, his fantasy owner is selling at a reasonable price, get in now before it's too late.