Flash back to the early 90s: MC Hammer was a one-hit wonder, New Kids on the Block were reaching the end of their career, and Green Bay’s favorite quarterback - not the one with the broken collarbone - wasn’t even on the Packers yet.
Come back to the present, and there's now a new kid on the block and another quarterback has stolen the hearts of Packers fan everywhere. Forget the quarterbacks though – it's “Hammer Time” once again. No, I’m not talking about a comeback for MC. I’m speaking of Eddie “the Hammer” Lacy, who happened to be born the same year U Can’t Touch This became a hit.
The recent loss of Aaron Rodgers not only hurts the Packers, but fantasy teams all over. Nik Bønaddio detailed what you can do if you happen to be one of the unlucky owners of Rodgers. But it also impacts the way we should view Eddie Lacy. Take a look for yourself.
Lacy has been bulldozing opponents ever since he came back from his injury, and nearly put up 100 yards against the Lions. His workload has now reached the heights of Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, and Marshawn Lynch. Lacy's 134 attempts rank eighth among running backs, and he's missed, essentially, two games. If you extrapolated carries to make up for those two games, he could very well be leading the league in rushing attempts.
The volume is certainly there for Lacy. But what about his efficiency? Of all backs in the league, Lacy ranks 11th in terms of Rushing Net Expected Points (RNEP). When you filter that down to only the 100-plus attempt runners, Lacy ranks sixth. In other words, the rookie is contributing more for his team than the majority of running backs in the entire league.
Lacy appears to be for real, but he's also faced a few depleted, porous defenses. Can he keep this up over the remainder of the season?
Lacy: Rest of Season Schedule
|Opponent||Adjusted Defensive RNEP||Rank|
|New York Giants||-21.71||3rd|
Keep in mind, the Adjusted Defensive RNEP looks at how well a team defends the run, adjusted for strength of schedule.
Lacy has two great chances over the next four weeks to be highly productive. And if you happen to make your league playoffs with Lacy, he should help you tremendously make a championship run.
Two teams to be wary of, however, the Giants and the Lions, could provide issues as top-five run defenses when fixed for strength of opponent. Both of those games are on the road, and the Detroit one comes on a short week. There are a lot of variables at play there, so be prepared for potential disappointment. For the remainder of the season, Lacy should still finish as a high-end RB2 or a low-end RB1 - our projections have him at number 11 overall at running back. Not bad for a rookie.
It's not all butterflies and rainbows for Lacy. We have to realize that there are some question marks because of the new quarterback situation in Green Bay. If Rodgers is out an extended time (the team is saying week-to-week right now), Lacy and James Starks may see defensive fronts looking to stop the run as opposed to Aaron Rodgers' arm. Lacy's efficiency is bound to go down a bit, but the hope is that his volume continues to keep up in order for him to be a stud fantasy asset.
And speaking of Starks, if Lacy hits the sideline for a little bit, Starks could vulture a few touchdowns from him. It seems as though the Packers are playing things on a series-by-series basis, but with Rodgers out, that could completely change. Starks has had few yards, but is remarkably efficient with his 0.28 NEP per rush, good for a top-three rank in the league for backs with 40 or more carries. Perhaps his high efficiency rate could mean more opportunity in the future, and less for Lacy.
We also can’t forget that Lacy is a rookie, meaning he's used to playing games only through November, not December. Will he wear down? Could he get hurt again? If he is going to be looked at as a major focal point in this offense without Rodgers, he will have to brace for December games. Add in the fact that he played in Alabama and is used to warmer weather instead of the low 30s in Green Bay, and he could be a delicate player rest of the season.
When it comes down to it, you will play your studs no matter what, and Lacy becoming part of that stud running back category. If you can trade for him, try it out, but be aware that you may have to pay a king’s ransom for him now. Anyone that has him is in love with his production and probably won't let you pry him from their hands. If you were lucky enough to take a "flier" on him in the draft and kept him, enjoy the ride. The Packers have changed their offensive team philosophy, and will even more with Rodgers out of the picture. Lacy will make out like a bandit.
His efficiency may drop without his star quarterback, and James Starks, due to his own solid effectiveness on the ground, may steal touches from Lacy down the stretch. But make no mistake about it: U can't touch Eddie Lacy.