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Camp Battles
By Mike Beacom

Camp Battles: Rams RBs – Pead vs. Richardson vs. Stacy

No NFL nickname encourages running the football more than the ‘Rams.’ The image sparks visions of collisions at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, the franchise is at a low point in the department. Once a home to Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and most recently, Steven Jackson, the Rams now have a three-headed backfield that fantasy owners find a mystery.

This week coach Jeff Fisher handed the starting job to second-year Daryl Richardson, whose statistics last year would have suggested he should be first in line. Only thing is most expected second-year Isaiah Pead would get the job. He has more talent (the reason he was picked five rounds ahead of Richardson last year). But preseason woes are keeping Pead parked for now. And rookie Zac Stacy, who had fantasy owners excited, has not been the darkhorse candidate they were hoping for.

But it’s early. The value in this backfield (probably someone to serve as a No. 3 back) has yet to be revealed. Even with Fisher’s announcement, the job remains open for competition. The question is, who will step forward…

Why Pead is the best choice: Most acknowledge that of this bunch Pead is the most talented. Don’t forget, he had almost 1,600 yards from scrimmage for Cincinnati in 2011. And reports suggest he’s been the most impressive back in practice this summer. Said Rams Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer last week, “He’s made play after play…” The Rams are building toward the future, and their second-year back has the most upside to build around.

Why it’s Richardson: Pead may be the best back in practice, but that has yet to translate on gameday. Consider last weekend’s loss to the Packers. Pead carried 11 times for 21 yards. Blah. His inability to get it done is why Richardson got the early nod, and why he’ll keep the job for the season. Think Stacy is going to push? He has barely stayed on the practice field. Nope, Richardson was a better option than Pead last year when backing up Jackson, and he’s the best option the Rams have in camp.

Why it’s Stacy: Because the Rams could not have been too confident in Pead or Richardson if they felt a need to spend a fifth round pick on Stacy, right? At 5-foot-8 and 216 pounds, Stacy has a less-than-ideal NFL build (think Ray Rice) but that didn’t stop him from mowing down defenders while at Vanderbilt. In each of his last two seasons Stacy carried 200-plus times and gained more than 1,100 yards. Wake Forest sure got a taste of him – combined 364 rushing yards and five touchdowns in two meetings.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Richardson

Pead has talent, Stacy is the unknown. For those reasons fantasy owners have interest. But there is too much doubt. Pead has yet to come out of his shell, and Stacy has barely made an appearance in camp. No one is cheering for Richardson, but at least you know what to expect, and fantasy owners have too quickly dismissed his totals from last season (4.8 yards per carry, 24 catches). Sometimes the best option is the one no one is hoping for.
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