Coming into the 2014 season, much was expected from Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy. He was supposed to be a true three-down back, the kind who would excel just as much in pass blocking and receiving as he did in pounding the ball between the tackles.
For seven weeks, that breakout remained a promise unfulfilled.
But two weeks ago, Lacy exploded. The Packers had great success with a screen pass for the first time in several games, as Lacy rumbled for 67 yards early on in the game. Then in the second half, he became Aaron Rodgers' go-to check-down option, and ended up recording eight receptions on nine targets for 123 yards. In one game, Lacy more than doubled his receiving yardage for the year and now is on pace for over 400 receiving yards in the 2014 season.
If this week's opponent is any indication, Lacy may be able to continue his recent success as a receiver.
The Chicago Bears' defense appears to be a ripe candidate for the Packers to attack with Rodgers throwing to Lacy this week. Looking at the linebackers, who would most likely be lined up covering Lacy, the Bears unit as a whole has "earned" a coverage grade of -17.7 on the season from Pro Football Focus. And even though Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic are both expected to return this week, each of them has a coverage rating of -1.2 or worse.
Then you have the success that other teams' running backs have had in the receiving game against the Bears. Here are the total receiving stats from all running backs facing the Bears in their eight games:
You can read the summary, but to reiterate, the Bears allow an average of 35 receiving yards and four receptions per game to opposing running backs. And it's not like the Bears have a stellar rushing defense, either; they're not terrible, ranking 13th in the NFL, but that is still good for 110 yards per game.
Here's another thing to consider as well: if the Packers do indeed have to sit starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton this week, it's very likely that Mike McCarthy will use a heavy dose of screens to Lacy to get JC Tretter and company blocking out in space rather than in a box. That will help alleviate the pass rush somewhat, but would also help Lacy rack up some more receiving stats. Eddie would also likely be used frequently on passing downs to chip oncoming pass rushers and then leak out of the backfield as an option for Aaron Rodgers.
With Lacy proving to both his head coach and his quarterback two weeks ago that he can be trusted with heavy use in the passing game, look for the Packers to work that ability into the game plan this week. That would likely result in a nice day for Lacy and for his fantasy football owners as well.
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week fantasy football "Double Up" league this weekend. It's $10 to join and nearly half the field doubles their money. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.