Fantasy Reaction: Eddie Lacy to the Seahawks

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After garnering interest this off-season from Minnesota, Seattle, and his former team Green Bay, free agent Eddie Lacy opted to sign what was likely his best offer and is now a Seattle Seahawk. His contract is a one year deal for 4.25 million with 2.86 million guaranteed, which also comes with a substantial workout bonus. He will enter his 5th season in the NFL coming off of back to back disappointing seasons where he was either unable to produce at a high level or unable to stay healthy.

Due to the devaluation of the running back position in recent years, it’s no surprise that the contract that he landed was essentially a one-year “prove it” deal. Honestly, the amount that he was offered and the level of attention he received was a little higher than I expected; as he arrives to his new team amid a flurry of controversy and distraction about his weight and ability to stay in football shape, as opposed to the shape of a football. Which brings me to the first of two major questions that I think need to be asked when evaluating where the now 26 year old Lacy should rank among the league’s top fantasy RBs.

Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have Eddie Lacy and others ranked in their 2017 Early RB rankings.

Is his weight really a serious issue or is it being completely blown out of proportion?

Coming into last season (2016), I was at the forefront of the, “he’s always been huge, it’s just that no one cared when he was producing” argument, and I stand by it to some degree. It’s also worth pointing out that we never actually learned how heavy he was in 2015 as those numbers were never released by the Packers organization. Instead all we had to go on was Mike McCarthy making remarks and essentially saying that his off-season had not been good enough and that his weight did have a negative impact on his ability to produce. What should have been a make or break, bounce back contract year going into 2016 was unfortunately derailed by an ankle injury that required season ending surgery.

Since then, in addition to learning the details of his new contract with Seattle, we have also learned that he came into meeting weighing about 267 lbs. To give you some perspective he weighed about 231 lbs coming into the league as a rookie. Also keep in mind that he is currently recovering from surgery that he underwent in November to repair damages stemming from a torn deltoid ligament (I have no idea what that is, I’m not a doctor). Anyway, the recovery is typically 4-6 months for such an injury, and as of March we are in month 5. So it is perfectly understandable why he might currently be on the heavy side. The biggest question to me, is how concerned about this are the Seahawks, who were kind enough to provide us with an answer in the form of a workout bonus. With which they basically told Lacy that while P90X was all well and good, they had a new regiment they wanted him to try, the P55-K.

Here’s how it breaks down.

  • He gets $55,000 if he’s down to 255 lbs in May.
  • An additional $55,000 if he reaches 250 lbs in June and each month he maintains it through August.
  • By September, they want him down to at least 245 lbs in order to receive his monthly $55,000 during the season.
  • This is a grand total of $385,000 that Seattle is willing to pay Lacy to not be fat. It is more than half of what Thomas Rawls will earn for the entire season.
Can he win the starting job?

Don’t let anyone tell you that the size of his contract guarantees him the starting role. It just means that he is currently the front-runner with the best opportunity to land that gig. Pete Carroll loves competition in camp. It seems to be a key part of his coaching philosophy. No one is guaranteed anything because of contract or draft capital, you still have to get out there and earn it, and I’m sure that’s what Lacy was told to some degree when they all sat down for their meeting. So the question becomes can he win that role out-right, and I believe that he certainly can. Outside of his terrible 2015 campaign when the entire collective Packers offense seemingly hit a wall, Lacy has really shined on film as a runner, even last season prior to his injury. Here’s how I profile him:

  • Despite his size he has excellent footwork. He will dance at the line patiently when gap hasn’t quite had time to develop, and does so effectively. Better than you would expect someone that large to be able to do.
  • He has a surprisingly good burst of acceleration when the line opens up a good hole. Probably one of the reasons why even in his worst years, he’s never averaged less than 4.1 yards per carry in a season. (4.48 so far in his career.)
  • He’s a physical runner when he gets to the second level and will opt to lower his shoulder on an open field tackler in the secondary vs trying to juke around them. Good use of his size.
  • Seems to know when to lunge into the pile when nothing is opening up, effective at moving the pile, and almost always keeps body going either forward or at worst laterally.
  • Doesn’t try to turn the corner or get to the outside very often, unless the defense fails to set the edge.
  • Effective enough as a pass catcher to be used reliably as a check-down option when the QB is under duress.

While I have to admit that playing caddy to Aaron Rodgers on a high powered offense definitely helped Lacy, I don’t won’t that underscore the fact that he’s a smart and savvy RB. There is a reason that the Packers were still in the running of teams to sign him.

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You should also know that he is taking a significant downgrade in the level of help that he got from the offensive line when he average 5.1 yards per carry prior to being injured. Pro Football Focus ranked Green Bay’s offensive line 5th overall going in to Week 11 last season (2016), whereas Seattle finished 29th. It’s easily the biggest concern that I have with trusting Lacy going in to 2017. The one glimmer of hope that I have in this area comes when I remember that after Week 2, Russell Wilson‘s lower half had more tape on it than King Tut’s, as he played through ankle and knee injuries. He was by no means the dual threat QB that we’ve come to know and love for fantasy, the type of running QB threat that has historically been very beneficial to early down RBs.

Final Thoughts

Just because he earns the role of starter and primary early down back does not mean that the Seahawks who have a lot of talent and depth at the position won’t use a full committee. I’m afraid that barring several injuries, gone are the days of the Marshawn Lynch high volume bell-cow role in Seattle. That said, given Lacy’s injury history while operating in the role of bell-cow, being a part of a committee might not be the worst thing in the world if it keeps him on the field for 16 games. Especially when you take into account the fact that almost all backfields are some form of committee.

I believe that converted WR C.J. Prosise will almost certainly function as the primary third down receiving back and should earn a few drives to himself, especially in games where Seattle is trailing late, and should be a solid addition to any roster in PPR formats. As far as Thomas Rawls, I think he will likely serve as the change of pace back. You can expect him to come in when Lacy needs a rest, running very violently, trying to flatten everything in his path. That style of running is always exciting to watch and with fresh legs and limited carries, he should be able to run at an impressive/efficient clip as well. He actually reminds me a lot of Khiry Robinson. Ultimately I think that as long as Lacy is healthy and committed he should be able to keep Rawls from usurping him for the role of lead back. So for me, Rawls is likely nothing more than a low end handcuff, not a “HAYUNDCUFF”.

See other installments in our Fantasy Reaction series including recently-inked FAs Alshon Jeffrey, Latavius Murray, Terrelle Pryor and DeSean Jackson.

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