For all of you fantasy football fanatics, it seems like the Green Bay Packers' running game is simple: Eddie Lacy carries the load. For someone who lives in Wisconsin and covers the Packers like it's my high school homework, that is nowhere close to correct.
Big news broke earlier this week as running back DuJuan Harris was placed on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury that requires surgery. This came as a huge surprise, as it looked as if the injury wasn't very serious when it happened during the Packers final home preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. Harris has history with this knee, though. He suffered in injury just earlier in the year during OTA.
What may come as a surprise to you, is that previously DuJuan Harris was supposed to be the number one running back entering the season for the Packers. This was according to the depth chart and small-talk in interviews with the press from coach Mike McCarthy.
So, without DuJuan Harris, the door opens for the four remaining running backs left on the Packers active roster, and I will break down each of them, their fantasy stock, and their role with the Packers after Harris' injury.
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Alex Green is entering his third-year in the NFL, all with the Packers. His rookie year was cut short due to a leg injury, but he came back in 2012 better than, well, any rusher on the Green Bay squad. Green lead the Packers in both attempts tand yards last season, with only 464 yards. Second behind Green was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Just for an idea, Adrian Peterson ran for over 4.5 times more yards than Green, so for obvious reasons, this can't repeat if the Packers want their running game to become a threat.
When it comes to Green's fantasy stock, I don't see you even considering him as a pick-up unless one of the following occurs:
- Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin both suffer season ending injuries
- You're in a huge league (20+) and you're desperate
- He gets traded
It may seem crazy to talk about Green getting traded, but there were talks between the Packers and the San Diego Chargers earlier in the month, according to sources, but nothing became of it.
At the end of the day, stay away from Alex Green.
James Starks has the highest chance among the running backs of getting cut from the roster. This comes despite leading the team in rushing in 2011 and being a very big part of the Super Bowl XLV run by the Packers back in 2010. Although Starks has looked decent throughout the progression of training camp, competitors DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, and Alex Green have looked better. Accordingly, Starks will either be the fourth-string halfback, or a free agent, meaning he'll remain a free agent in your fantasy football league.
Although he's a rookie, he's still getting drafted in eight-man leagues, proving Franklin has insane upside, as most writers believe. Coming into camp, Franklin was originally supposed to carry a small role, but after continually impressing coaches, his role is becoming very big. He may have the third-down back role early on, and very well could work his way into significant playing time as the season wears on. I really like Johnathan Franklin, and I think he has the potential to be a beast in the Packers system. If you're apart of a PPR league, Franklin will help you out there because he has great hands. Draft him in a later round, if you have the opportunity.
The one you have all been waiting for. Yes, Eddie Lacy will be the starter week one of the regular season. Yes, he just got drafted in the mid-rounds of your fantasy draft because he is good. If you follow me on Twitter (which you can do HERE), I haven't been very lovey-dovey towards Lacy, dating back to April. I didn't know how great he could be. Although we've only seen small flashes of it, I'm convinced Lacy will be a solid starter for the Packers, and he can be a solid number-two fantasy back, as well.
Although I said, "Stay away from Packers running backs" as recently as an August 12 podcast, I take it back. If you have the chance to take Lacy in the sixth round or later, it's a great risk.
Alex Strouf is a sports fanatic that covers fantasy football for SB Nation and covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for Welcome To Loud City. He does a podcast on iTunes called Two Perspectives. Want more? Follow him on Twitter HERE.