One year ago, before guys like Todd Gurley and David Johnson turned into the next great young fantasy football stars at running back, Eddie Lacy was firmly in the mix for the top running back spot in fantasy football, alongside Le’Veon Bell. Coming off two straight seasons with over 1,400 combined yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns, and playing in an offense featuring Aaron Rodgers and one of the best offensive lines in football, Lacy looked to be one of the premier running backs both on the field, and in rotisserie leagues.
But instead, Lacy went from preseason stud to regular season dud, as part of a Green Bay Packers offense that struggled as a whole. His carries dropped by almost 25% — from 246 to 187 — between 2014 and 2015, and he finished with less than 760 yards and only three touchdowns rushing. He didn’t break 100 yards rushing in a single game until the weekend before Thanksgiving. His poor play sprouted from his even poorer conditioning last season. Packers head coach McCarthy even benched Lacy in Week 11 of the regular season, and when the season was over, he publicly stated that Lacy’s hold on the starting running back job would be dictated by what type of commitment he made to his fitness and weight during the offseason.
With that in mind, Lacy spent the summer training with Tony Horton, founder of the famous P90X workout program. Akin to the exercises in said program, Horton put Lacy through a daily regime of plyometric exercises (exerting maximum force over short intervals with the goal of increasing speed and strength) designed to strengthen his legs, his butt, and even his core. They also mixed in cardio workouts, basketball-centric workouts, and even boxing routines.
All of that that helped Lacy come into the Packers 2016 OTA’s in noticeably better shape, though McCarthy challenged Lacy again to come into training camp with that same level of conditioning. Lacy rose to the challenge, coming into camp with the same level of fitness, and the results have been very tangible. He’s been one of the stars of the 2016 preseason, after running for 114 yards on 20 carries (and a touchdown), in very limited action so far. His coaches — including McCarthy — have all commented how Lacy looks far more explosive and spry, versus the player they saw in 2015.
As he’s proven earlier in his career, when healthy and fully motivated, Lacy is good for 1,400 combined yards and double-digit touchdowns per season. He’s never played in less than 15 games per season, over his three year career, so he doesn’t have the durability concerns of a Mark Ingram or LeSean McCoy. He doesn’t have young running back waiting in the wings behind him, like Devonta Freeman or Doug Martin both do on their respective teams. Plus, with his size and strength, he’s not someone the Packers will substitute out in goal line situations, like the Chiefs might with Jamaal Charles.
All of these facts put together put Lacy squarely in the conversation among the top 10 fantasy football running backs.
Photo credit: Mike Morbeck