Hey, Cal running backs. Amirite?
Cal has produced some pretty good running backs over the last number of years; guys like Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Anderson and Justin Forsett. (And please, spare me your Forsett was just a one-year wonder diatribe. You are sort of right. But I'm trying to draw a narrative here and don't really want the facts to get in the way. And if you do, I'm going all the way back to Chuck Muncie. You can go Yahoo! that guy right now; but trust me, he was pretty good. So are we square? Great. Let's move on.)
So the question now is can Daniel Lasco be the latest Cal running back to strike fantasy gold in the coming fantasy season? Well you've come to the right place to discuss this.
» Good-sized frame
» Blew up the combine
I know, I know. I should come up with more adjectives to describe him, but let's just get down to the brass tacks. He had a great combine. The numbers just jump off the page. Kind of like the way he jumped in the combine (holds hand up for a high five).
Lasco ran fast enough, he can lift and he can jump. Sometimes people will be derisive when a guy is so great at the Underwear Olympics. But at the same time, people can use those numbers to justify his awesome 2014 season. And let's be honest, the dude was straight up legit during his junior season. He had over 1,000 rushing yards, caught 33 passes and scored 12 touchdowns. I was wondering why he would even bother to come back for one more season, especially as a running back. (I remember when I used to play NCAA '14 and I'd have a junior running back who wanted to leave school to go to the NFL. I wouldn't even waste my recruiting budget on them. Why would you? They need to think of themselves. I was very John Calipari-like in that regard. I would have been a great coach. But I digress.)
Lasco also loves contact, which is great. It means he's going to be very willing to play special teams, which is important. (Even if the NFL is trying to legislate special teams out of the game.) But there have been a number of great players who got their start in the NFL because of a willingness to play special teams. Randall Cobb was a dude who used special teams (he was a returner) as a springboard to be a productive player. And typically, when you think of a player you really loved who never quite made the cut, a lot of times it was the unwillingness to play special teams.
» Injury history
» Lacks vision
» Seeks contact too much
All of these are connected in some way. While you like a guy who isn't shy about contact, Lasco seems too willing to smack into a guy at times. When maybe you would like to see a running back make another move, make a dude miss (and we've seen him make people miss), he will try to blow a dude up. That's fine. I like to do that stuff in Madden, but sometimes you need to play a little smarter.
You have to figure the main problem is his vision. He's just not seeing the play develop. That was one of the knocks against Trent Richardson. We all remember those hilarious highlights where there would be a huge hole, and the guy would just miss it. I think at some point a running back can react to things instinctively and I'm not confident it's something that can be learned. But it is something that is concerning.
And when you are far too willing to launch into a defender, it's going to lead to injuries. Many critics felt Lasco might have been a fluke in 2014 and were given plenty of ammunition thanks to an injury-plagued senior year. So what are we going to get from him in the NFL?
He also needs to get better at just taking what the defense is giving him and being content with chunks of yardage.
Ideal NFL fantasy fits
The Colts, 49ers and Raiders have already worked out Lasco, so they get the first nod here. Of course, the Colts are going to look at about every running back out there. Frank Gore isn't going to play forever and if they don't go for one of the big-name running backs early, you know they want to load up in the later rounds where Lasco will end up.
And as usual, I'll pick two random good offenses with a need for a late-round running back.
Early fantasy draft projection
Lasco is not going to be drafted to be a starting running back. But that's not always a terrible thing. The best-case scenario is that he goes to a decent team, let's say the Colts. And he's afforded an opportunity and makes the most of it. There has been some magic there. I've seen it with my own eyes. But part of me remains a little bit skeptical on the whole thing. I would love to be wrong. I would love for Lasco to be that guy nobody believes in, who people think is a fluke and then he somehow comes out and dominates fantasy football. We all crave that because we all need running backs. I'm just not positive it's going to be realistic. My guess is that he snakes a "That Helps No One" this season.