Power To The Backfield
The BCS Championship was supposed to be a matchup of the two best teams in college football when Notre Dame and Alabama took the field. All the hype of a possible Notre Dame upset over Alabama was pushed even higher by the Notre Dame fanfare. They had beaten Stanford and Oklahoma, so seemingly they stood a chance against Alabama.
Eddie Lacy’s dictated running, spin moves, and shedding of tacklers put an end to that moot point. The bowl game turned from a championship into what looked like a week one college game. A game usually dedicated to conference powers tuning up for the season with a weak opponent. The demolition derby began early and was a three hour spectacle of Alabama’s coup de grace over Notre Dame.
How Eddie Lacy performed in that game with ease, surely was thought to catapult him as a first round pick. Poor draft workouts and surgery nicked his stock a little bit, but not to the dismay of the Green Bay Packers. The carousel of backs since Ahman Green had a productive season has seen the likes of Ryan Grant, Alex Green, and even Cedric Benson a year ago.
Voicing displeasure surely would of happened by other quarterbacks around the league, but Aaron Rodgers is an on the field performer and not a media guy.
Having success with a rookie running back has fallen from the hey days of Robert Edwards and Fred Taylor years ago. Last year though it resurrected with top backs Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, and sixth round draft pick Albert Morris all having quality seasons. Significant impact years that retrained the eyes of fantasy owners and dynasty league drafts to pay attention to a rookie running back no matter if he is drafted in the first round or not.
Like Merril Hoge says a factor back is a factor. Coming into the NFL it is never guaranteed for immediate success but chances are growing now that more teams are in need for bigger depth at the running back position. Aging of backs has also caused a somewhat of a make shift of longevity in running backs lessening the opportunities of rookie backs. With the surplus of backs and cut downs on carries per game, its aging backs better. A veteran that does not see the field too much as a second or third back is going to be considered by other teams, while before teams would just rebuild through the draft. Now teams know the legs are not burnt up from their first four to five years in the league, and can count on them for a second contract.
It’s sort of similar to how the NBA handles second round draft picked rookies. Contracts are not guaranteed so they make those picks fight out a roster spot with an NBA/Overseas veteran that has just as much talent. The gap has closed in the backfield for elite prospects, so why over pay for a first round running back?
Eddie Lacy is trying to buck the notion that he should of fell to the second round, instead of being a first round pick. Many would want to point out the fact that Mark Ingram from Alabama has not even surpassed Pierre Thomas on the Saints depth chart. That is true, but a situation can change all of everything, and Lacy has that chance in Green Bay.
With Duane Harris just going down to a season ending injury the Packers have exactly what Lacy wants. Opportunity. He gets to step in a heavy workload situation where he can either fall out of favor with the Packers quickly, or supplant himself steadily in a role the Packers have been trying to fill for years.
Green Bay still has running backs James Starks and Alex Green and may utilize them early in the season if Lacy struggles. But Green Bay knows what Starks and Green can offer them and want to build away from that, not onto it. Jonathan Franklin the other rookie drafted from UCLA appears to be behind in understanding the offense so his impact will be little if any until later in the season.
This predicament with Lacy can leave fantasy drafters with endless questions. To draft Lacy as their second or third back, or let him stray to unchartered waters elsewhere, and not have to worry about him altogether. I believe Lacy is vastly undervalued right now, and even more with the season-ending injury to Harris who the Packers planned on involving heavily.
Let’s put the past few semi-successful running backs in Green Bay in perspective. In a passing attack that ranks top five with the best quarterback in football, James Starks and Ryan Grant had solid seasons. Starks had more of an impact in the Green Bay Packers playoff Super Bowl run because he was coming off an injury. Grant’s heyday was more with Brett Favre but he still provided solid action and results for the Packers.
If those two backs can do it why not Lacy? The primary issue with Green Bay Packers running backs in the past has been injuries. Lacy has already had a few that he has had to recover from, and will need to avoid the injury bug.
Being ranked anymore from the high teens to mid 20’s is where Lacy is falling for running backs. Select Lacy as your third running back and stamp trade bait and the green arrow next to him for stock rising. For where he is ranked even if he only stays your backup running back you can’t complain. But like last year’s rookie crop, I doubt he’ll stay on the bench too long.