Will LeSean McCoy Continue to Disappoint Fantasy Owners in 2014?

 

Whether injuries or off the field issues have deterred your fantasy football success thus far, first-round running back picks are not returning value to fantasy football owners.

Out of Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy, I considered LeSean McCoy the safest bet to finish as the highest-scoring running back for the 2014 season. With a year of Chip Kelly‘s system under his belt and an ability to score his fantasy owners points in diverse ways as one of the best dual-threat backs in the league, I was not concerned with McCoy’s future heading into the start of the season. Now, with a total of three fantasy points in the past two games in standard scoring leagues, I’m not sure if I should have the same outlook.

Before I authorize a freak out, however, I want to look at a few aspects regarding Shady’s performance.

 

Opponents’ Rank Against the Rush

Washington Redskins
Rank Against Rush 8th
Average Yards Allowed Per Game 87
San Francisco 49ers
Rank Against Rush 2nd
Average Yards Allowed Per Game 69.8

 

This doesn’t give McCoy an excuse, but this should help to give you some explanation of why he has struggled in the past two weeks. Arian Foster did record 103 rushing yards against the Washington Redskins‘ defense, but it did take him 27 rushing attempts to get there. Outside of that, the Redskins’ defense has held Toby Gerhart to eight rushing yards, Rashad Jennings to 55 and McCoy to 22.

The San Francisco 49ers‘ defense has faced some of the best dual-threat backs in the game(DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte and Andre Ellington), and have still been able to contain backs to an average of 69.8 rushing yards per game.

Again, this isn’t to make an excuse for McCoy, but his matchups have been far from cushy the last two weeks.

 

Offensive Line Issues

As of Week 3, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ offensive line has allowed its running backs to be tackled at, or behind the line of scrimmage the most in the NFL when a running play is called. According to Football Outsiders, every time a rushing play is called, a running back is stuffed 35% of the time for the Eagles.

Right tackle Lane Johnson will return in Week 5, but the Eagles are still without center Jason Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis. Kelce is suffering from a sports hernia, and will miss six-eight weeks, and Mathis is currently sidelined for several weeks with a sprained MCL. While all of these injuries are adding up, Mathis is the player who holds this line together. Last season, Pro Football Focus selected Mathis as the top-ranked guard, and his run-blocking grade was twice as much as the next best guard.

To showcase just how important Mathis is, I used a great visual aid from the Fantasy Football Toolbox called the “NFL Heatmap”. 

From the image below, you can tell that McCoy has been bouncing out to the left when carrying the ball.

 

Heatmap for LeSean McCoy

 

Expectations

Aside from facing stout defenses against the run and running behind a shaky line, McCoy is also a victim of his own success. Last year, Shady scored nine or more points in 14 games, and he also recorded 10 games of 14 points or more in standard scoring leagues. To break that down, 87.5% of the time, McCoy would land your team nine or more points in standard scoring leagues. In 62.5% of games, McCoy would net you 14 or more points.

Last year was simply a career-year for the 26-year old running back, and it was unlikely he would replicate the exact same type of numbers in 2014. He was a safe bet to finish as a top-five running back in the preseason, but Shady still would have disappointed some owners expecting him to replicate his 2013 season.

 

Where to Go From Here

For Week 5, Chip Kelly will look to silence his critics and find a way for McCoy’s talents to be utilized more actively. At home, against a St. Louis Rams‘ defense that ranks 30th against the run, McCoy should have a bounce-back game.

Until the offensive line finds a way to open up lanes, however, you are going to face frustrations you didn’t expect as a McCoy owner. You never expected McCoy to have a one-point game, but you have to face this issue head on. He can’t be the focal point of your team until he proves otherwise, so start building depth through the waiver wire and trades.

You can’t bench your first-round pick at this point, but start getting prepared for a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Fantasy Football

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