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Alex Schillinger

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Once upon a time, when the endearing story lines of Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo captivated our hearts and people were twerking to the revolutionary sounds of ‘Timber’ and ‘Work Bitch,’ there was a running back ready to take the world by storm. His name was Circle Button. Um, I mean Eddie Lacy.

In his first two years (2013-2014), the 2nd round pick rushed for over 2,300 yards becoming Green Bay’s first 1,000 yard rusher since 2009. Across that frame, he averaged 4.4 ypc, caught 77 balls, and scored 24 TDs. Lacy was dynamic, quick-footed and, well, thin. By 2015, he seemed primed to become one of the league’s top running backs and was being drafted 3rd overall. Lemme say that one again. Eddie Lacy was being drafted 3rd overall.

Then in 2015 Lacy took a hard hit in a Week 2 contest against the Seattle Seahawks and never quite recovered. He missed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career due to a massive drop in carries1 and followed 2015 up with another injury-shortened season in 2016.

Weighed down by injuries, poor performance and, um, weight, Lacy wasn’t re-signed by Green Bay and instead signed a lucrative deal with Seattle. He entered this year’s training camp 30 lbs overweight. Dude was so fat, he was put on an incentive program just to motivate him to lose weight. That’s not a fat joke. He was literally put on an incentive program to lose weight. The motivational tactic seemed to work as Lacy appeared to get his shit together, dropping the excess poundage2 and making the Seahawks’ final roster. Shortly after, rumors started swirling that he was going to be the workhorse of the Seahawks offense, that he “looked great,” that “he’s definitely 100 percent” and of course that “none of these are real quotes, they’re just generic statements that tend to surround Lacy.” Spoiler alert: Lacy hasn’t looked great, hasn’t been a workhorse and may not be at 100%. Shocking, I know.

Eddie Lacy - Dreads
I swear, those dreads add at least 25 lbs.

In the first two weeks of the season, Lacy rode the pine, rushing for only three yards in Week 1 and following that up with an appearance as a healthy scratch for Week 2. To say the least, it’s not looking good for Circle Button. Lacy finds himself on a team with three other legitimate rushing threats in Thomas Rawls, Chris Carson, and C.J. Prosise – all of which can also contribute to the passing game – leaving Lacy on the fringes of the 53 man roster.

Despite the fact that as of writing this, Lacy is owned in 95% of all ESPN fantasy leagues, it sure looks like we’ve already arrived at the end of his season and maybe even his career. Which is really disappointing. But for some nagging injuries, Lacy could have been great. While there’s still hope for Lacy, it’s small…unlike Lacy himself.3 He’s only 27 years old and while his weight struggles have shown that he isn’t exactly Bo Jackson in the weight room, he should be able to get one more chance to prove that he’s got the dedication that it takes to make it in the NFL. Maybe he’ll even be serviceable on a new team next year. Or maybe we’ll be talking, once again, about the wasted promise of Eddie Lacy.

Hey Le’Veon Bell, Julio Jones and every other playmaker out there,

On some random Friday night, you’re going to find yourself sitting around with nothing to do and thinking that maybe it’d be fun to go out with your friends, have a few drinks and, quite possibly, carry a concealed weapon in your jeans. Maybe you’re thinking it’d be great to play a light flag football game with the guys. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

To say Todd Gurley suffered from a sophomore slump last year is to put it mildly.1 Throughout the whole year, he struggled to get anything going. Despite an increased workload, Gurley finished his second season 221 yards and four touchdowns shy of his rookie totals. He only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, down from 4.8 the year before. So what happened? Was Gurley’s down year the result of terrible offensive line play? Should blame rest on the shoulders of his mediocre head coach? Was it all due to an injury? Did he go all Hollywood on us, selling out his game for the chance to eat horrifying CGI burgers? Yes to all of the above. Especially that last one.

Trying to defend the Chicago Bears this year is gonna be hard. Not only am I a lifelong Detroit Lions fan and therefore required by official mandate to detest and disparage the Bears with an undying, ever-present passion,1 but over the 2017 off-season, Chicago seems to have proactively dismantled their offensive core and rebuilt it with, well, nothing. So far this off-season they’ve:

  • Lost Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery to free agency.
  • Signed Markus Wheaton as a replacement for Jeffery, a bit of a step backwards given that Wheaton is coming off a serious shoulder injury and was decidedly not a Pro Bowler prior to it.
  • Lost their all-time leader in completions, yards and touchdowns, quarterback Jay Cutler to retirement.
  • Signed noted lousy quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez to replace Cutler.
  • Traded away four draft picks to move up one spot to nab Mitchell Trubisky at 2nd overall despite it now being clear that Trubisky would have been there at 3rd overall anyway.

Everyone’s been there. The afternoon games are wrapping up, your team’s done well and you’ve got an insurmountable lead. You’re about to finally turn the corner and make a playoff push. Your opponent has one guy playing Sunday night, and yeah he’s good, but there’s no way he can bring his team back against the lead you’ve built. So you crack a celebratory beer and settle in to watch the game and enjoy the final moments of your well-earned victory.

Almost nothing in fantasy hurts worse than being let down by a highly drafted player. In Dead or Alive, we’ll take a look at some of 2016’s most underwhelming performers and try to predict how they’ll fare in the upcoming season. (But if you get burned again, that’s totally on you.)

There may not be a weightier name in all of football than Manning. Archie, the patriarch of the family and former New Orleans Saint, is in the College Football Hall of Fame for his achievements at Ole Miss. His middle son, Peyton, is one of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played professional football. His oldest son, Cooper, may have been even better had a rare spinal condition not ended his career before it began. And you can bet that from the moment young Eli strapped on his helmet for the first time, he was burdened with living up to the family name.

Short answer: no. Which, if you have followed his career at all, is probably not a shock to you, but it’s really a shame. The 2011 season was Mathews’ second year in the NFL and the year he made a name for himself. He finished 8th overall in RB scoring1 ending the season with 187 points and besting household names like Matt Forte, Steven Jackson and Demarco Murray.2 By the end of that season, Mathews had many convinced he was the next dominant runner in the NFL.

Dalvin Cook was one of the most electrifying running backs in college football last season. In his final year at Florida State, Cook rushed for over 1,700 yards,1 caught 33 balls and scored 20 total touchdowns. And he did all this behind a line that was, for lack of a better word, meh. After his last collegiate snap, he was looking like he’d be a hell of an NFL athlete with first round potential.

Then came the combine and suddenly all the excitement over Cook’s on-field play was quickly replaced with the anxiety and doubt. It’s not like his combine performance was awful: he ran a 4.49 forty,2 he benched 225 lbs. 22 times3 and he tied Alvin Kamara for the highest elusiveness rating among running backs. But in an annual assessment of NFL prospects designed by SPARQ to measure each player’s athleticism in comparison to other NFL players, Cook finished 5th among running backs, leaving him in the 6th percentile.4

Week in and week out, managers struggle with which RB2 to start, what their waiver wire pick up will be, and whether or not their backup TE has a better matchup than their starter. There are entire TV shows, podcasts, and radio segments dedicated to which third string WR you should start any given week at your FLEX position. But when it comes to D/ST, the thought process usually goes something like this:

Who is Cleveland playing this week?

D/ST is unlike any other position on your roster and even on your strongest weeks can lose you games. But why? Because the defensive scoring system sucks. And as a result you’re left tearing out your hair and screaming at your computer. Okay, let’s be honest, you’re probably doing that anyway, but we still need to change the way we score defenses.