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Eddie Lacy Fantasy Stock Value Debate 2017

Eddie Lacy Fantasy Debate

Order in the Gridiron Experts Courtroom! Today we will be debating the case of Eddie Lacy finishing at his current ADP of running back 18 in the 2017 NFL season.

Do you as the Fantasy Football jury solemnly swear that you will deliver a true verdict for Eddie Lacy based solely on the evidence given to you in this article, so help you, God?

Opening Statement (Andrew)

Did you know Eddie Lacy has weight clauses in his contract with Seattle? It looks like Seattle wants him to lose some weight. But let me make one thing clear to this entire courtroom. The only thing that Eddie Lacy will be losing this season is any hope your fantasy team has at winning a championship. I call Mr. Lacy to the stand. So let me first address the elephant in the room; and no I don’t mean Lacy, I mean the Seattle Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks line in 2016 was the least experienced in the entire NFL with 117 combined career starts between the starting offensive unit. They ranked 25th in rushing yards, 24th in yards per attempt, 22nd in rushing first downs, while averaging mere 3.9 yards per carry (YPC). This compared to league average of 278 combined career starts and the Packers unit last year (288 combined career starts) show how inexperienced the Seahawks offensive line is. Offensive line problems combined with the fact that there is a foreboding running-back-by-committee in Seattle also hurts Lacy’s fantasy value. Lacy in his career has the fewest YPC (3.6) in the 4th quarter which may end up meaning Thomas Rawls will be biting into his carries late into games. C.J. Prosise is also not a name to forget as the former college wide receiver will have an increased role as the pass-catching back for Russell Wilson. Not to mention Lacy’s touchdown totals are decreasing yearly, it seems there are just too many factors weighing on Lacy to trust him in fantasy in 2017.

Opening Statement: (Mitch)

Let me start this with a number, 5.1.  That is Lacy’s yards per carry average in 2016 which is the best in his career. A 5.1 yard per carry average (YPC) was better than LeVeon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliot in 2016. But many people are worried about the move to Seattle and how this will impact his fantasy value. People of the fantasy jury let me put your minds at ease when I say Lacy is a good fit for the Seahawks offense. Last season the Seahawks ran 94 percent of their running plays out of the shotgun and a lone set back formation.

In 2016 Lacy’s numbers out of both those formations, 61 carries for 306 yards (5.1 YPC). Lacy has the chance to be a workhorse for the Seahawks and finding a workhorse later in your draft is basically like finding a golden ticket to your championship. Projecting Lacy to be Marshawn Lynch isn’t fair but don’t be surprised if he finishes as a top 18 running back by the end of the season. So don’t be upset if you don’t get BeastMode but don’t be surprised if you get FeastMode.

Rebuttal (Andrew)

So it is numbers you want? Well, I have a number for you all: 267. Eddie Lacy’s weight at his last free-agent visit to Seattle. So yeah, it is nice to throw around a 5.1 YPC on a small sample size of 71 rushing attempts, but remember this is fantasy. So 5.1 YPC on 71 rushing attempts with zero touchdowns translates to 7.76 fantasy points per game. So even if Lacy were able to keep up his career-high pace in YPC, he would have ended outside of the top 24 running backs with 124.6 fantasy points. This would have put him with the likes of fantasy running backs like Ryan Mathews (132 fantasy points) and Robert Kelley (121 fantasy points) who both started in less than ten games. So, despite having a 5.1 YPC, the only way Lacy could ever be a top 15 running back will depend on if he can get into the end-zone. The only times Lacy has been a top 15 running back in his career came back in 2013 and 2014, when he averaged 12 total touchdowns. Think he can score 12 times again? It sure did not look like that last year where on 75 touches Lacy did not get into the end-zone once! With him now being part of Seattle, his hopes of returning to the end-zone are as good as gone. Seattle in 2016 had 52 Pwr (This is the percentage of rushes on 3rd or 4th down with two or fewer yards to go that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also, includes rushes on 1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal from the opponent’s 2-yard line or closer). In Lacy’s career, 65 percent of his rushing touchdowns have come inside the two-yard line. The Seahawks’ Pwr compared to the league average (63) shows how sub-par the Seattle line is on short and goal situations. So even if he gets opportunities at the goal line, he will fail to convert more often than not because of the porous Seattle line.

In regards to Lacy’s fit with Seahawks offensive formations, I do have to agree with you. Throughout his career, he has averaged 4.5 YPC coming out of the shotgun formation. However, it is too bad Lacy will not be on the field on third down in any type of passing situation. Lacy in his ENTIRE CAREER has 12 targets in 3rd down situations when the distance exceeded three yards. The Seahawks are quite familiar with third-and-long, as they allowed the sixth most sacks last season. Looking more into his receiving stats in 2016, you will see Lacy in five games had a 57% catch rate with only four receptions on seven targets. Meanwhile, my boy, Prosise in six games had an 89.5 percent catch rate with 17 receptions on 19 targets. It seems pretty obvious that Prosise is destined to take the pass-catching role and eliminate any value Lacy has in the passing game. Having a 75 percent catch rate like my counterpart stated means absolutely nothing when Lacy’s career average receptions per game is less than two. Lacy has played in 51 games and has 101 receptions. You do the math. Less than two receptions per game is not going to get it done.

Rebuttal (Mitch)

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Yes, Mr. Lacy has a weight clause in his contract, therefore, giving him more motivation to lose the weight and get in better football shape. That being said, Head Coach of the Seahawks Pete Carroll said “I want him big”, which gives me confidence that the coaching staff wants a big powerful running back like Lacy. Your next statement regarding the Seahawks offensive line being bad I can not dispute. However, Lacy has proved that he can be successful behind a poor run blocking line with the Packers so maybe it won’t matter as much that he is going to Seattle.  Last season the Packers ranked dead last in the NFL in yards before contact on rushing plays at 0.93 yards.  In comparison to the Seahawks who as you stated have a bad offensive line who averaged 1.53 yards before contact which was ranked 19th in the NFL. Yes, Lacy is “sharing” a backfield with two other running backs but they will only be getting Lacy’s scraps and well I think we can all agree Lacy doesn’t leave a lot of scraps. Sorry, Lacy. A big part of stealing time is being available to steal the time. Both Rawls and Prosise have injury concerns. Rawls has missed 10 games in his NFL career or for simple math one out of every three games.  Prosise missed 10 games in his rookie season alone and only played one full season out of three at Notre Dame.  I find it funny how you say Lacy gets tired at the end of games so the Seahawks will turn to Rawls,  last season Rawls averaged 1.7 YPC in the fourth quarter. Maybe the only person getting tired is you because when comparing Lacy and Rawls fourth quarter rushing averages, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see 3.6 is more than 1.7.

Closing Statement (Andrew)

The story line with Lacy since the beginning of last year has been his weight and it is not going away. The Seahawks want him in the 240s, but that remains to be seen. This is a real problem for Lacy and if he wants to be anywhere near the running back he was his first two years in the league he needs to find the way to shed those pounds. His weight, the offensive line, and the other running backs on Seattle lead to the final verdict that Lacy will finish outside the top 24 at the running back position. At an ADP of running back 18, he will leave fantasy owner disappointed and lead them to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tubs to wallow in their sorrows.

Closing Statement (Mitch)

I started this with a number so why not end it with a few more. The first is 1,152 which is a number of yards Lacy was on pace for in 2016 before he was injured. The next number is eight, in only eight running backs finished with more yards than Lacy’s pace of 1,152. My last number has more depth to it since touchdowns are the hardest metric to predict so let’s use his career average of nine total touchdowns and a season combined with his total scrimmage yards from last season.  If you do that he would finish around 181 standard fantasy points or an RB1 which is a great value according to his current ADP of running back 18.

The Final Verdict

Gridiron Experts asks you the people of the Fantasy Football jury to vote and decide if Eddie Lacy will be a top 18 Running Back in 2017.

 

Mitchell Renz

Mitchell is working full-time as Senior Writer & On-Air Talent at Chat Sports in Dallas, TX. Mitchell is a Head Writer at Gridiron Experts and Co-Host of the Empire Fantasy Podcast. He also is a featured fantasy writer for the Fantasy Footballers and FantasyPros. Mitchell has a Ph.D. in Fantasy Football so give him a follow on Twitter @MitchellRenz365.

Andrew Erickson

Andrew is a Roger Williams University graduate where he majored in Marketing. While there he interned at a sports marketing agency where he had the opportunity to work with many professional athletes like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.

After college, Andrew started to write his own fantasy blogs via Wordpress.com to show his friends why he calls himself the Fantasy Football Master. He calls himself this because back in '07 in his first ever fantasy football league he drafted the Bears defense in the 1st round. He then proceeded to win the entire league. #DefenseWinsChampionships

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