Biggest Fantasy Football Breakouts - Zac Stacy
The St. Louis Rams are in one of the toughest divisions in football. The 49ers and Seahawks are the two best teams in the conference, and Arizona took a giant leap forward this year as well. While the Rams season started with glimpses of hope, it began to crash and burn shortly thereafter. Sam Bradford went down in Week 7 with a torn ACL, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook struggled and the running game was stagnant for most of the season. Fortunately for the Rams, they found a gem in Zac Stacy.
2013 St. Louis Rams - Fantasy MVP
Stacy is a big back, listed at just 5’8’’ but a massive 224 pounds. He came out of Vanderbilt, a school not known for it’s football, but he truly shined throughout his college career. He was a bruiser back, rushing for 5.4 yards per carry throughout his four years in the SEC. While he didn’t show much else besides his power at college, the Rams took a gamble on him in the fifth round as someone to add to their below-average backfield.
Stacy proved to be a valuable asset for the Rams. Once he got his opportunity in Week 5, the Rams offense completely changed. In just 12 games during which he was a part of the Rams offense, Stacy rushed for 100 yards four times and scored seven touchdowns. He lost just one fumble and ran for 3.9 yards per carry. He did have a few dud games, however, running for under 3.2 yards per carry four times. He also finished with a decent 26 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Fantasy football experts pegged Stacy as a deep sleeper before the season began. The backfield in St. Louis was mediocre, with Daryl Richardson leading the pack. When he went down with injury and Isaiah Pead struggled, Stacy was given his chance to shine. He ran with a power that was unmatched by any other Rams backs, and he even showed some decent vision and burst for a player that was pegged as having neither. When Sam Bradford went down and Kellen Clemens went in, Stacy became a focal point of the Rams offense, which allowed him to pile up carry after carry, picking up 26 carries or more five times over the last 11 games. He turned in some huge games, as the above-average Rams offensive line was able to give him room against some decent defenses, including Seattle and Tennessee, against which Stacy rushed for 134 and 127 yards, respectively. He was a pure workhorse power back, resembling the likes of a less-explosive Michael Turner. If there was any room in the trenches, he would find it and pick up a strong three or four yards while defenders were trying to bring him down.
Stacy still has a lot to work on as a player. While his power will always be his strong suit, he would be best suited to work on his burst so he is able to take more carries to the outside. He also needs to work on his pad level, as he kept his body upright way too many times, which led to easier tackles. He could also work on being a better receiver out of the backfield to ensure that he stays in on third downs.
Sam Bradford will be back next year, an immediate upgrade over Kellen Clemens. Also, the Rams offensive line figures to stay the same next year, as Jake Long should be healthy by the time Week 1 rolls around. Tavon Austin and Jared Cook both figure to take a step forward next year, presenting more matchup problems for defenses. The combination of all of these makes for a promising year for Stacy. Defenses were able to focus on him last year, and he still had a few big games. With Bradford back, it’s fair to think that Stacy should raise his yards per carry. He will probably receive fewer touches per game, but his total yards in the end should remain the same. We can probably expect Stacy to receive roughly 275-300 carries, gaining anywhere between 1100 and 1300 yards and close to 10 touchdowns. Stacy has a high floor and a decently high ceiling, making for a good second-round draft pick. While he is not matchup proof, he is a good bet to have strong games against even the toughest of defenses.
Dynasty owners have to like Stacy. As an RB2, he has the makings of a consistent scorer whom you can count on for the next five years at the minimum. There are no signs that the Rams don’t trust him as a starter, and outside of Benny Cunningham, a third-down back, no one will be receiving any carries in St. Louis besides Stacy. Stacy does have room to grow as a pro, although we probably won’t be seeing any spikes in his stats. Bruiser backs tend to be more consistent, and Stacy will probably be the definition of consistency throughout his tenure in St. Louis.