Benny Cunningham jogged onto the field for the St. Louis’ Rams prior to their first series in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Zac Stacy owners died on the inside.
Cunningham has been the bell of the ball in the early stages of the 2014 preseason, outrushing Stacy on average yards per carry 5.3 to 2.6. Where Stacy is a plodding volume-driven ball carrier, Cunningham’s speed and elusiveness separates him in terms of athleticism from his cohorts in the Rams’ running back corps.
While it has been an impressive preseason showing from Cunningham, it appears Jeff Fischer still has Stacy’s back.
Fisher on Cunningham starting at RB: "We just gave him a chance to run behind the first offensive line. We know what Zac can do."
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) August 24, 2014
Stacy has garnered some confidence from the team’s brass after rushing for 973 yards in 14 games with seven touchdowns as a rookie. Stacy’s past success will earn him the nod on opening day, but what happens over the course of a season is anyone’s guess.
Benny Cunningham averaging 5.5 yards per carry only a year removed from a torn patellar was extraordinary.
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) August 24, 2014
Benny Cunningham is better than Zac Stacy. I’m going to keep saying this.
— Fantasy GM (@FantasyGM) August 24, 2014
While Twitter has chosen it’s champion, there is another horse in the stable in St. Louis. Tre Mason, a standout rusher at Auburn, was not drafted in the third round to sit on the bench all season. Thus we have previous evidence that the Rams staff was not completely sold on Stacy as the starter. It just appears that Cunningham will be the backup to start the year, instead of Mason.
Stacy is currently being taken as the 12th running back off the board, and 20th overall player. Drafting the Rams’ starting rusher early is a massive risk due to the level of competition behind him. While the volume of carries will certainly dictate success in the early stages of the 2014 season for Stacy, he must hold off not one but two players with the potential to be quality starters in the NFL.
What owners projected to be a situation with a workhorse back and one viable handcuff, has transformed into a three-headed monster giving fantasy footballers everywhere stomach ulcers. Save yourself the pain, and take Cunningham late instead of Stacy early.