by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While there significantly more hyped rookie running backs heading into 2013, the Rams’ Zac Stacy arguably had the biggest impact. As the Rams looked to fill the shoes vacated by Steven Jackson, Stacy emerged as the go to running back as he rushed for 973 yards and 7 TD in just 14 games.
Those would be solid numbers on their own, but there are two things working in his favor for an even bigger campaign.
1) This Tweet from Jim Thomas (earlier in the offseason), quoting coach Jeff Fischer:
Fisher, on RB Zac Stacy’s evolving role with Rams: “I think over time, he’ll probably be that 70-percent of the carries guy.”
2) Through September he had just 1 carry for 4 yards.
That’s right, it was over the final 12 games of the season that he amassed 249 carries for 969 yards and 7 TD (while adding 26 catches for 141 yards and 1 TD). If you simply took those rushing yards and extrapolated them for a full 16 game season you get 1,292 yards and 9 TD.
How many RB picked up at least 1,250 yards and 9 TD in 2013? The answer would be five:
- LeSean McCoy
- Matt Forte
- Jamaal Charles
- Adrian Peterson
- Marshawn Lynch
There were two others attaining the yardage but falling short of the TD (there were also only 10 running backs to rush for at least 9 TD for the season). In other words, all he has to do is replicate his success over the full season and he will immediately be among the better options in the league.
Of course, last seasons numbers included a pair of late season duds (15 carries for 15 yards against the Seahawks and 14 carries for 25 yards against the Cardinals). So, there actually is the potential for even more…
Actually, the upside looks promising given the questions marks in the passing game and the quote from Fischer we mentioned at the beginning of this article. There are very few running backs who handle that high of a percentage of their team’s carries these days, though Fischer has proven with Chris Johnson in the past that he’s well willing do it.
Stacy has proven he has the talent…
His coach appears willing to give him an opportunity…
Yes, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns heading into the season. The addition of Tre Mason in the draft shed a little bit of doubt on his role, but Mason’s struggles in pass blocking has helped to ease that concern.
You also have the matchups, with Stacy getting the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers for a total of six games. Those are going to be tough, but he also proved capable of producing against tougher defenses in his rookie season.
You may not need to draft him as your RB1 this season, but it actually wouldn’t be surprising to see him finish the season in the Top 10 (or, if you really wanted to get wild, in the Top 5 though that’s a stretxh). You’d better believe that I’m buying Stacy if he’s sitting there mid-to-late in the second round (and with an average ADP of 26.8 he should be) and I would recommend you do the same.
Source – ESPN
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: