Every season, we do our best to predict who the big sleepers and breakout candidates are going to be. Every season, we get a few of them wrong -- very wrong. But just because a certain player goes bust one year doesn't mean they'll be a bust forever. Welcome to "Bust-a-Move", where we're breaking down some of 2015's biggest fantasy football disappointments to determine if you can expect some stat sheet salvation in 2016.
When we made the decision to resurrect Bust-a-Move for this season, there was little doubt in my mind that Eddie Lacy was going to be one of the players I profiled. One year ago, he was being talked about as the No. 1 overall pick and considered to be among the safest options at the top of the draft.
By Week 6, you could have called us Jon Snow. Because we knew nothing.
Fast forward to June 2016. If you know only one thing about Eddie Lacy's offseason heading into the new campaign, it probably has something to do with P90X and #BestShapeOfHisLife. If there's a second thing you know about Lacy, it's that he's quickly moving up draft boards as more people hope that his physical transformation leads to an increase in on-field production.
But what if Lacy's 2015 season wasn't as simple as a running back carrying a few extra pounds? What if there were other issues that led to the Packers rusher barely landing among the top 25 at his position? After all, Lacy had posted more than 1,100 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons. His precipitous drop to just 758 yards on the ground had to be attributed to more than just a few extra donuts.
What went wrong
Let's be honest, Lacy has always been a big man. In his rookie season, the Packers roster had him listed at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds. But that's a far cry from speculation that his weight might have reached in the vicinity of 260 pounds last year. When asked about it, Lacy referenced other big NFL backs like Jerome Bettis and Brandon Jacobs. That would be just fine if Lacy was performing like those other men did during the peaks of their careers. When you're not playing well, that size becomes another thing for people to ask about.
When you watch Lacy early in the season, he looks hesitant at the line of scrimmage and doesn't have that same type of burst getting through the hole that we saw in previous seasons. That could be attributed to a little extra girth. It could also speak to a gimpy ankle that never showed up on any injury reports. Throughout the early part of the season, Lacy displayed a distinct lack of agility and consistently struggled to make people miss. Being too heavy isn't nearly the hindrance on a running back that a bad ankle can be. Though, admittedly, the former certainly doesn't help the latter.
Overall, it took a toll on more than just Lacy's moves on the field. At times it kept him from getting on the field at all. Lacy missed just one game in 2015 -- sitting out the Week 10 loss to the Lions with a groin injury -- yet his share of snaps fell to 41 percent, down from 65 percent the year before. That led to a corresponding drop in touches as well. Lacy averaged better than 300 total touches in his first two seasons. In 2015, that number barely topped 200.
I also don't think the absence of Jordy Nelson can be understated. Without its top receiver, Green Bay's offense wasn't the same juggernaut we'd become accustomed to seeing in past years. Receivers struggled to get open consistently and the whole attack stuttered. The Packers weren't exactly a one-dimensional offense, but they did go from the league's most potent attack in 2014 to the 15th-ranked unit in 2015.
What must improve
The first steps to a rebound appear to be underway. Our Twitter timelines were flooded with stories and photos of Lacy looking slimmer and chumming it up with P90X creator Tony Horton. The next challenge will be keeping the weight off during this dead period and showing up to training camp in better shape than he was last season. Lest we forget, this is also a contract year for Lacy. Combine the motivation to earn a big new deal alongside any perceived desire to silence all of the fat jokes and Lacy should run extra hard this season.
It's equally encouraging to see that the band is getting back together at Lambeau Field. Nelson is healthy and ready to go for a new season. That should allow everyone to go back to their previous roles in the offense. Just in case you forgot from earlier in this piece -- or just from watching -- this offense is really good when it's humming at full capacity.
What we expect
We know what the Packers can do. Let's see them have all the pieces necessary to get it done. Signs point to this year's group being as good or better than any Green Bay offense we've seen in the past few seasons. That's good news for everyone in green and gold -- including Eddie Lacy.
Verdict: Last year was a bad confluence of circumstances that conspired to take down an otherwise good running back. The first two years of Lacy's career were a better indicator of his ability than anything we saw last season, and he'll remind us of that this year. The only downside is that plenty of people are starting to get on board with this line of thinking. Back in the spring, Lacy was being projected as a third- or fourth-round pick. Now he has crept into the second round and the price is likely to get higher as we get to the start of the season.