It’s not often one finds themselves targeting a St. Louis Rams’ player on their fantasy draft board. Aside from Steven Jackson - who’s now with the Falcons - there haven’t been any Rams [in recent memory] who garner attention in the early rounds of the draft. That’s not going to change in 2013, but there are several Rams who can be had in the later rounds, and rookie running back Zac Stacy is someone to keep your eye on.
Drafting Stacy may appear a bit of a risk given the uncertainty at the position for the Rams. Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has made it clear that the Rams intend on utilizing a committee approach in 2013, and it’s fair to assume that second year RB’s Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are going to see their healthy share of time in the backfield. Stacy, though, should immediately become the team’s go-to guy in short yardage situations, and is a far more viable option as the team nears the goal line. The efforts of Richardson and Pead [neither of which have scored a TD in the NFL] may mean very little on the scoreboard if the bigger-bodied rookie is punching it in for six.
Stacy’s size sets him apart from other Rams’ backs. Outside of Terrance Ganaway - who carried more sandwiches than footballs in 2012, and looks to be 4th on the depth chart again this year - Stacy’s measurables have drawn comparisons to Doug Martin, and rightfully so:
Zac Stacy: 5-9, 216 pounds, 3,143 yards, 5.4 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.70 three-cone drill, 4.17 short shuttle, 27 reps
Doug Martin: 5-9, 215 pounds, 3,431 yards, 5.6 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.79 three-cone drill, 4.16 short shuttle, 28 reps
To expect Martin-esque results, having not played a down in the NFL, would be unrealistic. Martin carried the ball nearly 20 times per game in 2012 and, as aforementioned, Sam Bradford will [at least initially] be handing off to Richardson and Pead between the 20’s. But a very small window of opportunity will open for Zac Stacy on September 8th of this year, when the Rams open their season at home against the Cardinals. Isaiah Pead will be suspended for the team’s first game [substance abuse violation], hence eliminating 1/3 of the team’s timeshare, and providing Stacy an opportunity to make big plays out of additional carries.
How’s he going to make the most of the opportunity?
An improved offensive line, for starters. There’s still some uncertainty at left guard, but a healthy corps of lineman comprised of Jake Long, Scott Wells, Harvey Dahl, and Rodger Saffold now makes the O-line one of the team’s strengths, and will provide ample opportunity for the team’s RBs to find a hole and successfully chew up yardage on the ground.
Patience. Whether being handed the ball or getting involved in the passing game [which the Rams would be wise to do], Stacy has shown great patience and vision on the field. In this short cutup of Stacy’s 2012 season at Vanderbilt you can see his patience, and his ability to set up blocks downfield. Another thing to note is Stacy’s ability to keep plays alive after first contact. Runs that should’ve gone for a loss are often turned into 2-3 yard gains.
Having traded up with two 6th round picks in April’s draft, Stacy was a player the Rams coveted in the 5th round [160 overall]. GM Les Snead made it clear that the draft was about ‘wants,’ not ‘needs,’ and Stacy may just be the ‘thunder’ the Rams wanted in their backfield given the exodus of Steven Jackson.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher is impressed thus far:
"He’s done a good job. We went down and did a private workout with Zac and really liked what we saw. You do the film study. When you lead the SEC in rushing – you’ve got some skills. He’s done a great job of picking everything up right now."
Fisher makes a good point about Stacy’s stellar, yet rarely mentioned, senior year in the SEC. Facing some of the toughest competition in the entire country, Stacy finished his 2012 campaign as the SEC’s 4th leading rusher; less than 200 yards behind the far-more coveted 2nd round selection, Eddie Lacy.
It should also be noted that the Rams will be facing some favorable opponents - in terms of stopping the run - in 2013. The Cardinals [x2], Jaguars, Titans, and Colts all finished in the bottom ten in that statistic last year, while the Saints were the worst team in the NFL at stopping the opposition’s rushing attack.
Stacy isn’t going to be a guy that’s taken in the first half of many fantasy drafts. He may be a player worth stashing, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to become the team's feature back prior to the halfway point of the season. He’s the most well-rounded RB on the Rams’ roster, and concerns surrounding Richardson’s durability and Pead’s off-field issues [as well as on-field production] aren’t hovering over this rookie. He’s definitely in a battle for playing time, but don’t be surprised if you continue to hear more positives from his coaches as the offseason progresses.
Beating out two 2nd year RB’s in St. Louis isn’t out of the question. Drafting Zac Stacy onto your fantasy team shouldn't be either…