October 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) runs the ball past San Francisco 49ers defensive end Quinton Dial (92) during the second quarter at Levi
RB – Eddie Lacy, James Starks, John Kuhn
Lacy – 18 carries, 90 rushing yards, 1 catches, 3 yards; 9.30 fantasy points
Starks – 9 carries, 28 rushing yards, 2 catches, 11 yards; 3.90 fantasy points
Kuhn – 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 catch, 8 yards; 6.90 fantasy points
We may have a problem here folks.
Four weeks in, and we’ve only seen one decent outing by our star running back. Though that is partially due to injury concerns, it still is something worth paying attention to.
Lacy has done alright on the ground, considering he missed most of on game (230 yards total), but the biggest issue has been an inability to get into the endzone. Had it not been for a late push to score in Week 1, he would have zero touchdowns to show for the first quarter of this season. That’s bad enough by itself, but with his okay-but-not-terrific rushing totals and a few stray catches being all that he’s has to boost his fantasy point total he’s not been nearly the weapon he was expected by many to be.
I’m not too worried however. If you’ll remember his first couple seasons, you’ll know why.
The trend in each of Lacy’s three seasons in the league has been a disappointingly slow start that leaves us wondering if there is a problem with him. The previous two seasons, he’s managed to work himself out of the funk and become the top-producing option we all know and love after that slow start.
My money’s on him doing so again, and this matchup is the perfect time to do so.
The strength of the Rams’ defense is undoubtedly their ability to rush the passer with a litany of terrifying presences on that line; currently, they have FIVE former first round picks either starting or rotating in. This group is great for trying to pummel a passing game into submission, but that type of pass-rush-first talent has a tendency to either overlook or underestimate the ability of a running game. This is exactly why they lost to Washington in Week 2; they weren’t able to stop the run-game, which let Washington move the ball safely and eventually take the victory.
Now, St. Louis isn’t terrible against the run (#13 in Run Defense DVOA*), but it has been shown to be the preferable way to attack them. If your team can move the ball on the ground, you are able to not only go after them in the most efficient possible way but also prevent their pass rush from mutilating your quarterback.
While I would always love to see another 5+ TD performance from Aaron Rodgers, the smart move here is a game-plan where the Packers grind it out on the ground against a beatable run defense, eating away at the clock and preserving Rodgers from the possibility of being decapitated as often as possible.
That game plan works in Lacy’s favor. He’s going to be another week removed from his injury issues, and likely to see at least as many carries this game as he did against San Francisco. The yardage should be there for an okay day on its own, but if his touchdown luck turns around (being the top-option rusher and power back on a high-scoring team would suggest he should have some chances), he’ll finally give another big game — and hopefully kick off a run of strong performances.
Starks likely won’t get too much work with Lacy fully healed, but the substitution and carry patterns by the team seem to dictate he’ll have some snaps out there. Acting as a slasher against what could be a tired and frustrated defense could allow him to rack up a bit of yardage, as well as catching a few passes as a leak-out option to combat the pass rush.
Kuhn barely sees snaps, but is always a back-end threat to grab short-yardage and goal-line snaps. He’s not worth a roster spot due to the highly inconsistent number of his snap counts and the relative nature of vulture-type players in general, but you should be aware that he could take away 6 points from someone.
Week 5 Prediction:
Lacy – 110 rushing yards, 10 receiving yards, 2 rushing TD; 24.00 fantasy points
Starks – 45 rushing yards, 10 receiving yards; 5.50 fantasy points
Kuhn – 1 carry, 1 yard; 0.10 fantasy points
Verdict: Roll With Him (Lacy); Deep-League Outside Shot (Starks); Scrap-Feasting Vulture (Kuhn)
*Defense-adjusted Value Over Average; measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent