2013 Fantasy Football: The Zac (Stacy) Attack
Way back when on July 14th, I had this to say about Zac Stacy in my St. Louis Rams team preview:
“Player to Watch: 5’8 rookie Zac Stacy has the appearance of a scat back, but he’s anything but. Stacy runs with power behind a low center of gravity, displays excellent vision and makes quick, decisive cuts. Vanderbilt used him frequently in the “wildcat” to best utilize his see the hole/hit the hole mastery. First string offense is not an unreasonable ambition for Stacy.”
After two bench ridings and two inactive weeks, it appears my high hopes for Stacy are finally coming to fruition. Stacy has taken 66% of the running back snaps since being reintroduced to the football field in week 5 (despite a rib injury), including a healthy 81% of the snaps last week at Houston. It’s safe to proclaim that he’s wrestled the starting job away from Daryl Richardson (and the MIA Isaiah Pead). Even a timeshare situation seems highly unlikely given the recent course of events. Stacy was the highest graded week six runner by Pro Football Focus at 2.1, ahead of Arian Foster. [am4show have=’p9;p4;p7;p3;’ guest_error=’Front Office’ user_error=’Front Office’ ]
In the Rams first four games, prior to unleashing Stacy, they totaled 189 net rushing yards; in the last two games alone they’ve accumulated 242 ground yards. We’re not talking about a game changing running back talent here, but Stacy is solid as a rock. Unlike the hesitant Daryl Richardson, Stacy elevates the level of his offensive line play. He’s decisive, follows his blockers and always falls forward. He doesn’t possess great speed or chunk gain potential. What he does bring to the table is a “grinding”, one cut running style that softens the middle of defenses. And he never fails to exploit an opening.
While Stacy’s failure to hit paydirt is not an individual concern, St. Louis has ZERO rushing touchdowns through six games as a team – and that IS a concern. The Rams used play-action on early goal line downs to great effect versus Jacksonville and Houston, so hopefully that will open things up down the road. It can’t get any more closed that’s for sure. Stacy scored 30 collegiate touchdowns in the SEC for undermanned Vanderbilt, many of which he created something out of nothing. He’s extremely adept at seeking out the goal line, and he naturally keeps good pad level. Stacy also averaged 20.5 yards per reception as a senior at Vandy, a skill Brian Schottenheimer hasn’t incorporated into the gameplan just yet.
- Stacy has forced seven missed tackles, with 99 of his 161 rushing yards coming after first contact.
- 13 of his 32 carries in weeks five and six came in the form of middle runs. Rams are not trying to bust big gains, but rather ensure manageable down & distance.
- According to Advanced NFL Stats, Stacy has a 56.8% Success Rate, or plays resulting in positive expected value. What this means? For a little guy he’s always pushing the pile and maneuvering for positive yardage (two negative runs plays, two no gains).
- Four rushes of 10+ yards with a long gain of 18. His strength is not busting runs, but if you think he’s content with X amount of yardage, he’s going to run you over for some extra turf.
Remember when Stacy couldn’t crack three-yards per carry in the preseason and looked woefully underwhelming? Real runners run in real games, and Stacy is the definition of a bulldog. Make no mistake: there will be numerous peaks and valleys ahead for the rookie on a limited offensive unit. He remains more attractive as a keeper option than steady starter for 2013, but there’s a lot to like about his makeup and RB intellect. Right now, the most encouraging factor is that he’s getting playing time. Week seven at Carolina (#3 rush defense) and week eight versus Seattle (3.9 YPC) are not the choicest of matchups.
*Premium Stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com*
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