By Justin Becker, @NBAFantasyInfo
It’s amazing the difference one year can make. Just last summer people were laughing off Green Bay Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy, thanks to some photos that made him look fat.
That and Green Bay’s pass-happy ways led to Lacy being taken in fantasy football drafts in just the third round, on average.
This year you’ll see him going off boards in round one.
That’s at least partially thanks to Aaron Rodgers busting up his clavicle and missing seven starts in 2013, but mostly due to Lacy being an absolute wrecking ball.
In fact, Lacy was so effective as the team’s main ball carrier in just his first season, that head coach Mike McCarthy had no qualms about feeding his bruising tailback 20-plus carries in 10 different games.
If that’s not impressive enough, Lacy also had 284 carries on the year despite missing one full game and most of another due to a week two concussion.
All of that equated to a solid 4.1 yards per carry average, 11 rushing scores and more than 1,100 rushing yards. Lacy even proved to be a true every down back, racking up a solid 35 receptions and displaying solid blocking ability.
In the end, Lacy was fantasy football’s sixth best running back a year ago. One year later, he’s being drafted (on average) to do the same amount of damage.
There are two legit concerns with Lacy: That the Packers might pass more with a healthy Rodgers in tow and that his physical style could lead to nagging injuries.
We did see him get concussed, but the guy missed just one game as a rookie. Any fantasy player can go down for any amount of time in any game. Losing sleep over his ramming ability hurting him over the course of the year just isn’t worth it. It’s what makes him such a great weapon, so you can’t let yourself also use it against him – or drafting him.
The other thing is that a healthy Rodgers doesn’t change anything. Rodgers being there only can make Lacy better. After all, Lacy was already riding a four-game streak of 20-plus carries before Rodgers even got hurt. This Packers offense was already becoming one of the more balanced and unstoppable forces.
With Rodgers back, that doesn’t magically change. You can worry about matchups if you want (that week one battle in Seattle might not be fun) and his playing style, but the flaws in Lacy’s fantasy game tend to be pretty weak, overall.
While Lacy being a monster again isn’t necessarily a locked-in guarantee (nothing really is in fantasy sports), it’s as safe a bet as any. Lacy did all of this craziness in just his first season in the league and one of his top competitor’s for carries (Johnathan Franklin) isn’t even with the team anymore due to a neck issue.
Lacy still will share the field a bit with backup James Starks, but he’s a heavy favorite to carry the ball 300-plus times or at the very worst see well over 300 total touches for the second year in a row.
In addition to his hefty role, Lacy is in an offense that bodes well for scoring. His 11 touchdowns in his first season of play is clearly impressive, but just imagine how many more scoring opportunities he might have if Rodgers is around for the other seven games.
Yes, enticing to say the least.
With a menacing, physical running-style, there is surely some risk to Lacy’s game. However, it’s probably a more long-term risk. For now, Lacy is a fantastic talent with a great role and operates out of one of the best offenses in football. There’s very little reason not to love him and almost no reason he should slip out of the first round of fantasy football drafts in 2014.