In a battle between rookie running backs at Packers training camp, Eddie Lacy appears to have the early upper hand on Johnathan Franklin. Lacy has looked better in camp, drawn the most praise from teammates and media in attendance, and was the star of the intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 4. Franklin is a player that we at RosterWatch love as a prospect, but obviously had our fantasy expectations somewhat tempered by the idea of a timeshare when the Packers selected him in the fourth round after already selecting Lacy.
Rosterwatch interviews Johnathan Franklin at the Senior Bowl
Rosterwatch interviews Johnathan Franklin at the Combine
Eddie Lacy is taking second-team reps at Packers camp behind a real slug in James Starks while Franklin is running with the third team. Lacy seems within striking distance of the true “starting role” in Green Bay, while sources close to the team are indicating Franklin has too much work to do in pass protection to garner serious consideration or trust from HC Mike McCarthy.
Fantasy players will wonder what the running back position is really worth in an aerial attack like the Packers offense. It is important to remember that through the first third of 2012, McCarthy was insistent on feeding Cedric Benson. Prior to Benson’s injury, the Packers won every game in which they gave him the ball at least 18 times.
With an ADP of 5.05, Lacy represents a high-risk, medium-reward option while fellow rookie Gio Bernard (a player with a much higher ceiling) is going a full round later. It is hard to reconcile selecting Lacy over veterans such as Ahmad Bradshaw, Shane Vereen or Rashard Mendenhall as RB3/Flex options, either.
Franklin should be considered nothing more at this time than bench depth/RB4/RB5 material with upside. Taking Franklin at 9.10 when options such as DeAndre Hopkins, Golden Tate and Vick Ballard still on board is not a solid strategy. While Lacy may be “winning” the RB camp battle to start, it appears at this early juncture that not many fantasy owners will be winning with their season tied to either of the players’ productivity.