Today we saw the news break about Eddie Lacy going to the IR. This is obviously a big blow if you own Eddie Lacy. Lacy has been a solid carry, though his fantasy value this year has been limited by the lack of goal line appearances by the Packers offense. Lacy did not have a touchdown this season, though he did average 5.1 yards per carry and 72.0 yards per game. Also, Lacy had four runs of 20+ yards already. No touchdowns hurt.
Quickly though, we are now faced with a fantasy world without Eddie Lacy. As upset as you might have been with the numbers, he was a good option to have in an RB2. Here are a few names to think about for at least the short term as you sort this out:
Jay Ajayi, Miami
He started off in the dog house in Miami, but he has turned things around and seems poised to take control of the starting spot for good. Ajayi went from six carries two weeks ago, to 13 carries a week ago to 25 carries last week. He has the skill set to be good, he just had to show the maturity to be an NFL player first. Arian Foster is still hurt, and he is not the future of this team. The Dolphins are looking at Ajayi to see if he is their running back for the next four or five years. Ajayi is available in 34% of Yahoo leagues and 27.1% of ESPN leagues. The 200+ yards from last week is not the new normal, but he should get touches. The match up with Buffalo this week and the bye next week might be problematic.
Terrance West, Baltimore
Less available, but still out there in 16% of Yahoo leagues and 14.4% of ESPN leagues. West has put in a few good games in a row and has held off the Dawn of the Age of Kenneth Dixon. West has been solid for a few weeks and this is clearly the new trend. Double digit carries every game this season and 20+ in two of the last three. Over the last three weeks, he has a low rushing total of 87 yards. Not a highly targeted pass catcher...but neither was Lacy and you had him.
James White, New England
White has been very involved in the passing game in the two weeks since Brady came back. Expect that trend to continue. The Patriots stayed with LeGarrette Blount and ball control while Brady was gone, but they are back to that passing attack now and White is a nice RB2 consideration going forward.
Packers Running Backs
Now here is the big question: which current Packers running back do you take to fill this void? Who was the handcuff at this point without Starks? Knile Davis is the choice that first came to mind. Davis came out of Arkansas with a measured 3.47 40 yard dash. He can fly. In Kansas City he got a few chances to show that. He had his best production in 2014 when he had four games with 15+ carries. This might be the best view of what he is like starting full time. In those games he totalled 85 carries for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns. That comes out to 4.32 yards per carry. Decent numbers; however, Davis has fallen out of favor in the deep KC backfield. With Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West between Davis and the field (and the return of Jamaal Charles), Davis was a luxury. It is also a contract year for Davis. The Packers have been very interested in running outside the tackles this year. This made very little sense with Lacy who was at his best with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and heading downhill, but this might suit Davis better.
Coming along for the ride is the more homegrown talent. Don Jackson was promoted from the Packers practice squad and is someone who has been practicing with this team for some time. This might give him the leg up. It appears Jackson will be the main ball carrier on Thursday night and might get a chance to take a hold of the job if he can be successful within the system. Jackson is slower, but ran a 4.47 at his pro day in Nevada. That would make him roughly Ezekiel Elliott speed. His other measurables would have put him near Kenneth Dixon and Derrick Henry in terms of quickness and explosiveness. He is an interesting player and he will get a chance. In the little bit of film I could find, he appears to have decent field speed and is caught from behind by corners, but is able to shift and cut without losing speed.
If you need someone for this weekend, wait for one of the players starting over the weekend rather than reaching for one of the Packers starters tonight. Watch closely tonight. Davis should get some touches and we should have a much better idea what the Packers’ backfield situation is before the weekend.