Alabama running backs have injured defenses for the last 3-4 years, running behind gigantic offensive lines that seemed to have no Kryptonite. All three of the former Alabama backs are tough, physical and punishing runners who like to deliver pain to tacklers. In 2010,
Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy even though he was in a time-share with
Trent Richardson. Richardson was the top gun in 2011 and was relieved by Eddie Lacy, until Richardson was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2012. Last year, Lacy teamed with T. J. Yeldon. Will Yeldon continue the Alabama trend? Maybe not! I will talk about who started last year as Lacy’s “relief pitcher” until getting injured.
Eddie Lacy stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 231 pounds. He reliably knocks down overmatched defenders like a bowling ball striking bowling pins. But surprisingly – for his size – he has feet that dart around like a bumblebee. He utilizes his patented “merry-go-round” spin move to break away from the herd. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Draft, and will be running behind the 18th-rated offensive line at the beginning of the 2013 NFL season.
As a rookie, Lacy is projected to rumble for 925 yards, with 200 rushing attempts and seven touchdowns. He is projected as a three-down back, but still needs to improve his blocking. He will also lose totes to another Packers rookie, Johnathan Franklin. I think Lacy’s expected numbers are close to the figure. He will be a touchdown hawk at the goal line, knocking tacklers backwards as they try to keep the behemoth out of the end zone. If he becomes a three down back this year, Lacy is a decent (but not great) receiver and he might outperform his projected receiving numbers of 20 receptions for 175 yards. In the two drafts I’ve had so far this year, Lacy is being given much respect. He’s been drafted somewhere in the early part of the middle rounds.
– Lacy reportedly showed up for organized team activities out of shape. If weight or lack of work effort becomes a problem for him, it could hinder his fast feet – making him a tugboat instead of a PT boat!
Everyone, including me, enjoys watching his spectacular spin moves, but I cringe at what might happen to him if he gets hit in the knees while spinning.
As mentioned above, Lacy was the featured back for Alabama in 2012, but he was also in a time-share. He – like all of the Alabama backs mentioned – came into the NFL without ever being an every play three-down back. All of the former Alabama backs take a lot of punishment themselves because of their similar running styles. How many carries will Lacy be able to handle in his first year as a Packer?
Richardson is going in the first round of most drafts, and rightfully so! In 2013, the 5-foot-9, 230-pound back will run behind the sixth-rated offensive line. He’s anticipated to carry the ball 300 times, 33 more than last year, and amass 1,350 yards, 400 more rushing yards than last year. He is projected to ground-pound the ball into pay dirt 12 times. You can also “throw-in” (get it?) 60 pass receptions for 425 yards and two touchdowns, making him good in points-per-reception leagues, too.
Of the three ex-Alabama backs mentioned in this article, he’s the most talented and he has the most advantageous situation. He’ll run behind a good line on a team with few weapons and almost no ammunition. But Richardson won’t shoot blanks this year – the experience he gained last year will make him a much better back. Why? Because now, after one year of NFL experience, he’s much more acclimated to being an every play three-down back. He knows what it takes now. I could go on for eternity about Richardson, but so can everyone else.
– Injuries … that’s about it. This guy is “money” and not the kind you use in blind bidding waiver leagues.
Mark Ingram – the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner – is the third Alabama bully I’d like to analyze. He weighs in at 215 pounds and stands 5-foot-9. He is built like a dump truck, and, when drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2011, he was projected as the team’s short yardage savior. Everyone thought and said that he’d be the perfect running back to hammer-out all those 3rd-and-1 situations the Saints had been so woeful at in the preceding years. But somebody forgot to tell Ingram and his teammates!
In 2013, he will run behind the 15th-rated New Orleans Saints offensive line. He’s estimated to rush 170 times, for 750 yards and nine touchdowns. If he stays healthy, I think these are reachable numbers, but he might struggle to score nine touchdowns this year; he only scored five last year.
He can catch the football, and I think Ingram has been one of the most underutilized backs in the NFL over his last two years. The way the Saints have used him rivals only the way the Tennessee Titans have wasted the talent of tight end Jared Cook (now with the Rams). Every time Ingram enters a game, defenses key on him to stop the run, and when he does run it, they’re already hunkered-down and are waiting on him! If Darren Sproles or Pierre Thomas gets hurt, Ingram could catapult into fantasy stardom. I hope the Saints wake up soon!
For his sake, I’d love to see Ingram reunited with Richardson in Cleveland, or maybe Chris Ivory, who’s hauling the tater for the New York Jets now. But for fantasy purposes, this would create the dreaded fantasy time-share. So, for now, I guess Ingram keeps wobbling along in the bayou!
Warnings – See all other warnings in this article!
Jalston Fowler, the next Alabama great?
Obviously, after last year, T. J. Yeldon will be at the top of Alabama’s 2013 running back depth chart, but keep your eyes on Fowler. Fowler, a junior, is 6-foot-1 and weighs 250 pounds. He obviously fits the mold of the three backs mentioned in this article, and was the backup to Lacy before getting hurt in 2012. He’s a steamroller waiting to roll all over someone, and may roll himself straight into the NFL if he can successfully recover from his leg injury!
Warnings – Alabama’s so overloaded at the running back position that he might not get much “camera time!”