Fantasy value of Packers RBs

Where to draft Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and the rest

Updated: August 15, 2013, 9:06 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Eddie Lacy and Johnathan FranklinUSA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesThe Packers think highly of both Eddie Lacy (No. 27) and Johnathan Franklin (No. 23).

Just when we thought we had a feel -- or at least a loose grip -- for how the Green Bay Packers' running back rotation would work in 2013, head coach Mike McCarthy uttered six words whose impact was felt throughout the fantasy football world, "I view him as our starter."

After impressing at an intrasquad scrimmage, and showing a penchant for gaining tough yards that had been missing from the team's backs in recent seasons, second-round pick Eddie Lacy must've been the subject of McCarthy's designation. After all, he was viewed by many during the pre-draft process as the closest thing to an every-down back in the class.

Guess again.

Perhaps instead McCarthy was alluding to fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin, another favorite among draft gurus, particularly for his abundant receiving skills and vision.

Nope.

Alas, McCarthy was actually speaking of a running back who was removed from the physically unable to perform list on Monday, one who was selling used cars in Jacksonville prior to being signed to the Packers practice squad in October of 2012.

DuJuan Harris was a late-season revelation for Green Bay, providing a spark for a running game that needed it down the stretch. Though not a star, Harris showed an ability to impact both the running and receiving game (he had 100 total yards in a playoff win over Minnesota), a welcomed addition to the often-imbalanced (and yet unequivocally potent) Packers attack.

But it's uncommon for a team to invest in two players at the same position within the top 125 picks of the draft if it feels fully comfortable with its current group, leading many to suspect that the starting job would come down to the superior performer during training camp between Lacy and Franklin.

We shouldn't take McCarthy's words to mean that the race for the starting job is over; after all, Harris needs to get fully healthy (knee), and few position battles are decided more frequently during preseason games than those at running back.

And we shouldn't expect the starter to be named sometime soon, either. This may not happen until the week leading up to the regular-season opener.

But before we get any further on how fantasy owners should invest in these Packers backs, let's examine the merits of each from a scouting perspective.


To read more on the fantasy value of Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and the other Packers RBs, sign up for ESPN Insider today.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.