ADP Bargain: The Case for Running Back Eddie Lacy

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Eddie Lacy, if healthy, has a good shot to outperform his current ADP in standard leagues. I know it’s pretty common to hear his name said in jest. You can almost count on the obligatory weight jokes that involve some mention of food or his general health. It’s almost as if people naively believe if they prod Lacy enough, he will sign up for some camp and then lead the campers in a revolution against Tony Perkis. For those of you keeping score at home, yes, that is a Heavy Weights reference. Many said such a reference couldn’t be done, but I’ve spent the better part of my life studying Ben Stiller’s B-rated appearances, waiting for a moment like this. It’s been time well spent.

ADP Bargain: The Case for Running Back Eddie Lacy

What gets lost in the jokes is that Lacy has a realistic shot to outperform his ADP. Currently, people are drafting him as the RB24 & 30 (depending on the site). In other words, the average drafter is picking him in the sixth round, which is a bargain for a number of reasons.

First, the landing spot was the best available on the market. I know people are quick to pounce on the offensive line play for Seahawks, and rightfully so, but this team ranked ninth in red zone rushing attempts last year. A key ingredient in fantasy football success is opportunity. Even though their line could fail as a run-blocking unit, the opportunity for touchdowns should still be there. Over Lacy’s career, he has turned 116 red zone carries into 22 touchdowns. In comparison, Le’Veon Bell converted 132 red zone carries into 24 touchdowns during that same time period.   

Even if the Seattle line disappoints, Lacy showed in limited time last year that he could outperform the expectations of his line. Aldo Avina at RBScout crunched some data to calculate gap-adjusted yards.  His numbers show which running backs perform above, at, and below the expectations of their offensive line. Scores above zero indicate that the player ran for more yards than was expected to be provided by their line. Not only was Lacy above zero, but also there were only six players who averaged a higher amount of created yards. In short, the numbers suggest that Lacy has the ability to overcome the potential shortcomings of his blocking up front. 

Evaded tackles per game is a statistic that could help to explain how Lacy exceeded the expectations of his line. Josh Hermsmeyer recently wrote an article that examined the stickiness of certain stats year to year. He found that evaded tackles per game is one of the most stable. Lacy’s average of 5.4 evaded tackles per game ranked as fifth best in the NFL last year. If Lacy can maintain this high rate, it will lead to more yards, which will lead to more sweet, delicious fantasy points.

Points, of course, are the lifeblood of any fantasy running back, and certain ages of running backs tend to grab a bigger slice of those points. Lacy is 27 years old, which is important when you consider Mike Tagliere’s article. In the article, Tagliere noted a prime age range for running backs (26-28). As mentioned before, Lacy is 27. He is also now a Seahawk. The Seahawks have finished in the top five in rushing in four of the last five years. That combination should make your heart smile.

Finally, the Seahawks’ strength of schedule (SOS) looks promising. I get it. Whenever strength of schedule is mentioned prior to the start of the season, this disclaimer should follow: These predictions are often wrong. While I don’t put too much stock in SOS, the reputable Warren Sharp’s analysis caught my attention. Sharp pegged the Seahawks as having the second easiest schedule. The schedule may even be easier for fantasy purposes. Unless you’re a masochist who has their championship in week 17, you only have to worry about Arizona once this year. If the Seahawks improve in their run blocking, or if Lacy can overcome his line’s limitations, he will have positive and/or neutral game scripts to take advantage of.   

The Case Against Eddie Lacy

I know there are people out there that are willing to pass on Lacy because he burned them in 2015. While 2015 was certainly a dud, we are talking about a player who has finished in the RB1 range twice in the past. In other words, Lacy has proven that a top 12 finish is in his range of outcomes. There aren’t many running backs drafted near Lacy that have a similar range. His current ADP is a no-brainer for me.

Others are choosing to pass because of the presence of Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. Rawls has been the subject of recent positive news, which has increased the talk of a potential running back by committee. While that may happen, the truth is Lacy outperformed Rawls in the aforementioned statistics. Lacy’s contract could also indicate he’s in line for more work than Rawls. Prosise is a different story. Prosise has likely already carved out his role as the passing down back. This will limit Lacy’s ability to become a bell cow, and will cap his PPR value.

Conclusion

Even with Prosise, there is still a lot to like about Lacy. He’s in the prime age window, and he evades tackles with the best of them. He’s on a team who has four top five rushing finishes in the past five years. I look at all of this and see that Lacy will be quite the bargain if he’s still on the board in the fifth or sixth round.

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