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It’s Time for Another Zac Attack
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Matthew Freedman discusses how Zac Stacy fits into a promising group that would also include Arian Foster.

Yesterday, the writers for RotoViz, in a pure instance of serendipity, covered three RBs in the 2013 draft class who are very much under the radar. I wrote about the guy I consider to be the most undervalued RB in the 2013 draft, Jon Moore delivered an excellent analysis of Jordan Roberts, and Shawn Siegele did this piece, a consideration of Zac Stacy’s pro prospects in the context of agility scores.

Today, I want to pick up where I left off—talking about a big-bodied yard-producing undervalued FBS RB. And, following Shawn Siegele’s piece (which you should read), I’m coming in with another Zac Attack—Zac Stacy from Vanderbilt University.

In my piece yesterday, I talked about my method of finding undervalued RBs who have a higher than perceived likelihood of producing a top-30 season.

Specifically, I said this: “Here is the system I use: find FBS RBs who 1) weigh at least 215 lbs, 2) had at least one college season of good production, with 1000 yards rushing as the baseline, and 3) were under-drafted or undrafted, with an RB taken in the 4th round being the absolute highest I like—otherwise, the discount I receive relative to a player’s intrinsic value is diminished. Additionally, I really prefer for the RBs [. . .] to have had at least one FBS season of 1500 scrimmage yards or more, of which at least 1175 are rushing yards [. . .] Sometimes, in exchange for one 1500-1175 season, I will accept two 1000-yard seasons. And I prefer RBs from BCS conferences (especially the SEC) [. . .] The system is flexible, but it basically seeks to find big-bodied and proven FBS RBs who have fallen into disfavor. What is wagered is little, the reward is very high, and the rate of success is higher than one would imagine.”

Zac Stacy fits this system rather nicely. Weighing a stout 216 lbs. for his 5’9” height, Stacy is downright MJD-esque in his toughness and physique, and he has proven himself in the SEC stomping grounds over the last two seasons. Here are the statistics from his two seasons as the fulltime starter and focal point of Vanderbilt’s offense. (This information is provided by http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb.)

Player College Year Class Car RuYd RuAvg RuTD Rec ReYd ReAvg ReTD
Zac Stacy Vand. 2011 Jr 201 1193 5.9 14 20 106 5.3 0
2012 Sr 207 1141 5.5 10 10 205 20.5 0
Total 408 2334 5.72 24 30 311 10.37 0

For a “smaller” RB competing against SEC schools eight times a year, that production is pretty good.

How have other similar RBs done in the NFL? Here is a table of SEC RBs from the last fifteen years who 1) weighed 215 lbs. or more upon entering the NFL, 2) had at least two FBS seasons of 1000 scrimmage yards, and 3) were, at best, drafted in the fourth round, and 4) actually made an NFL roster. The table is organized according to draft status, with all of the players’ first five years of NFL positional rankings provided.

Name College Rookie Year Draft Status Y1 Rank Y2 Rank Y3 Rank Y4 Rank Y5 Rank T30 Seasons
Vick Ballard Miss St 2012 5.170 25 1
Anthony Dixon Miss St 2010 6.173 67 92 99 0
Cory Boyd So. Car 2008 7.238 165 Out of NFL Out of NFL Out of NFL Out of NFL 0
Arian Foster Tenn 2009 Und 58 1 4 3 3
BenJarvus Green-Ellis Miss 2008 Und 57 102 15 24 19 3
Avg 74.4 65 39.3 13.5 19 50%

Out of the five players in this group, three have produced top-30 seasons. Additionally, Boyd was out of the NFL after his rookie season and thus would not have needed to occupy a roster spot, and so the only player on this list who could be considered a long-term system failure is Anthony Dixon—and he still belongs on rosters with Frank Gore aging, Kendall Hunter recovering from a serious injury, and LaMichael James tilting the scales at only 194 lbs.

What is most impressive about this group is that, out of the 14 seasons they have collectively submitted, 7 have been top-30 performances: to borrow from the eloquent Brian Fantana, 50% of the time, these RBs work every time. That kind of production from guys available late in rookie drafts or on waivers is outstanding. And if he is selected after Round 4 in the 2013 NFL Draft, Zac Stacy will be the next guy on this list. As such, he will make for a strong (and easily acquirable) player for dynasty leagues.

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