Fantasy 5: Is Lacy worth an investment in Seattle?
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
No news is good news. Unless, that is, you’re writing an article on recent news. In which case, no news makes Jeff a dull boy. The good news is that there is at least some news to talk about today. So let’s dive into today’s news fantasy players need to know.
1. What’s Eddie Lacy’s expected role with the Seahawks?
Perhaps one of fantasy’s most polarizing running backs, Lacy is widely labeled as a player to avoid in drafts. However, there are some who view him as a good value at his current ADP at the turn of the fifth/sixth round given the opportunity he has in Seattle. But how sure can we be that Lacy will receive the lion’s share of carries?
The Seattle Times speculated on the touch distribution in the Seahawks backfield, with Bob Condotta saying his “best guess … is Lacy and Rawls take a fairly equal share of the basedown carries.” Best guesses certainly aren’t anything we want to hang our hats on for fantasy purposes. Instead a look at the numbers suggests Lacy is the better option provided both he and Rawls are healthy.
Selective memory paints a rosy picture of Rawls, but a closer look reveals something else entirely. In his breakout 2015 season, Rawls put up four 100-yard games. All of them came against bottom-half run defenses, including his 200-yard performance against the league’s worst run defense, the 49ers.
Rawls averaged just 3.7 yards per carry last season. To be fair, his offensive line did him no favors. But his 2.2 yards after contact ranked a lowly 54th out of 77 qualifiers with at least 25 percent of team carries. Though Lacy played just 166 snaps last season, he significantly outpaced Rawls in this department with a yards-after-contact average of 3.4 per attempt.
We have no definitive answer on the Seahawks backfield at this point, but the tea leaves seem to be pointing to Lacy in the lead-back role where he has the potential to be a solid RB2 option with RB1 upside.
2. More three-wide for Baltimore?
The Ravens ranked slightly below the middle of the pack last season, using three-wide sets on 57.8 percent of their offensive snaps. Word out of the Baltimore beat suggests that number could increase this season. An uptick of three-wide use makes sense in the wake of Dennis Pitta’s season-ending injury.
The Ravens don’t have a tight end on their roster who is able to step right in for Pitta, but did recently sign a capable slot receiver in Jeremy Maclin. At this point, Maclin is fantasy’s best bet for production in the Baltimore wide receiver corps. Of course, his signing took most of the wind out of the sails of those thumping for a Breshad Perriman breakout. More three-wide sets will help Perriman, though he still isn’t likely to see enough snaps/targets to be a consistent fantasy producer. Perriman is better viewed as an upside DFS option this season.
3. Rams offensive line and Todd Gurley getting on the same page
One of the most disappointing players in all of fantasy last year, Gurley regressed significantly from his breakout rookie season. That being said, he was still an RB2 option when all was said and done. That’s not what fantasy drafters wanted with him, but still a usable fantasy option.
A big part of his problem stemmed from the offensive line. The Rams ranked a lowly 28th in yards before contact per rushing attempt with just 1.11 yards generated. Some have suggested Gurley was in part to blame here due to his missing holes. This isn’t a stat we directly track at PFF, but his overall performance is reflected in his grade where he finished 33rd out of 62 qualifiers.
The good news is the Rams upgraded their offensive line in the offseason with the addition of Andrew Whitworth. They also have a new regime in place under Sean McVay, who managed to get productivity out of Rob Kelley last season in Washington. McVay most commonly ran outside zone last year at 40.1 percent of the time, whereas Jeff Fisher’s Rams ran inside zone the most last season (38.9 percent).
This change could potentially help Gurley, who averages 4.22 yards per carry over his career on outside zone runs compared to 3.81 per on inside zone. While Gurley is far from a slam dunk, he’s a strong candidate for positive regression and is worth consideration at his current ADP in the second round.
4. A lot of years left for Eli Manning?
You know it’s June when stories about veterans “feeling great” and “having a lot left in the tank” come out. Manning is the most recent subject of the latter trope, as Giants co-owner John Mara said Manning has “a lot of years left in him.”
Cool beans, but talk is cheap. The fact of the matter is that Manning regressed last season and will need to show on the field that he’s still capable of playing at a high level in his age-36 season. The Giants added two weapons in the offseason in Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, giving Manning arguably the deepest group of pass catchers in the league. Manning has potential upside with this group in place, but it isn’t worth considering him as anything more than a late-round option.
5. Pump the brakes on ArDarius Stewart
The Jets rookie receiver generated some buzz in the wake of Eric Decker’s release, but he’s missed most of the offseason with groin and thumb injuries. Missing time is critical for any player in the NFL, but it’s especially impactful for rookies. At this point, the Jets’ No. 3 receiver spot will likely come down to either Charone Peake or Jalin Marshall. However, Peake has the early edge with Marshall serving a four-game suspension to start the season.