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Preseason Roundtable #1

Eavesdrop as various staff members share their views on a range of topics.

This week we discuss the following:

Broncos RBs

[Note: This discussion took place before McGahee was released by the Broncos. -- Ed., 7/5/2013]

We're going to kick things off with the Broncos RB situation, and we're lucky because two of the people in our group today are about as plugged in to the Broncos as anyone. Adam Harstad and Cecil Lammey are going to book-end our discussion, and we'll start with Adam.

Adam, do you think there's much fantasy value in the Broncos' RB position this season?

Adam Harstad: I've tried to do it. I've tried very hard to remain pessimistic and cynical about the Denver RB situation, but I just don't have it in me. Just when I thought I was out, it pulled me back in. Last year, Denver quietly put up top-10 RB production over the course of the season behind Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, but entering this year I was bearish on the situation with McGahee aging and Hillman maturing. Then Denver goes out and drafts a rookie in the second round and suddenly optimism reigns again.

There is legitimate uncertainty surrounding Denver this year; any of the four could honestly wind up leading the team in carries. That uncertainty has caused all four backs to be discounted to the point, however, where anyone making some good educated guesses stands to reap a substantial windfall; remember that "Denver RB" was, for all intents and purposes, a fantasy RB1 last year.

Let's discuss each Denver RB in turn, starting with Willis McGahee.

Adam Harstad: Willis McGahee is Mr. Reliable, and a favorite of Fox and Elway, McGahee was always the back they turned to first. The problem for McGahee is that he is now old (only Fred Jackson is older), overworked (only Steven Jackson has more career carries), and the most expensive back of the quartet (Denver could save over $2 million in cash and cap considerations by parting ways, which is important because Pat Bowlen is frugal and the team is hesitant to spend his money on backups). If McGahee makes the final roster, it's likely because the team intends to feature him. McGahee is also probably the least likely of the four to make the final roster.

What do you think of Knowshon Moreno?

Adam Harstad: Obviously Moreno had a surprisingly valuable finish to the season last year, but the more important consideration in my mind is the eight games where he failed to even make the active roster. Since inheriting Moreno, the current regime in Denver has done everything in their power to avoid using him: signing McGahee, drafting Hillman and Ball, deactivating Moreno until injuries further up their depth chart forced their hand. In my mind, that reluctance weighs more heavily than Moreno's fantasy value when he was finally called upon; I can't see the team doing a 180 overnight and deciding suddenly to feature him. He's cheaper and younger than McGahee, so he might make the final roster, but if he does I'm betting it's as depth. Either way, the general consensus among followers of the team is that, since neither back plays special teams, McGahee and Moreno are battling it out for one roster spot.

Where does Ronnie Hillman fit in?

Adam Harstad: Hillman is an intriguing player because was a high draft pick last year, and certainly has plenty of talent. My reading of the clues (most notably the acquisition of Ball) tells me the organization views him as a change-of-pace back, not a workhorse. This doesn't necessarily mean they're disappointed in him, it just means his NFL value will likely outstrip his fantasy value. I've been wrong before, but I feel Hillman is the least likely of the four to make a fantasy impact.

How about the rookie, Montee Ball?

Adam Harstad: In my mind, Ball is the brass ring. If I draft only one Denver RB, Ball is the one I want. I know John Fox has a history with rookies, but that history is more complicated than it first seems; there has only been one season (2007) where he gave a veteran a heavy workload over a younger RB who was clearly outperforming him. In all other cases, either the veteran and rookie were performing comparably, or the veteran was outperforming the rookie entirely. Meanwhile, this is a completely different franchise with a completely different situation. As I mentioned, McGahee is aging and expensive, Hillman is a change-of-pace back, and Fox has never before gotten behind Moreno. I know all reports are glowing during the offseason, but Peyton Manning recently said of Ball "we are going to count on him in a big way this year. He's a rookie, but coach (John) Fox isn't going to bring him along slowly." McGahee and Moreno have both been out with injuries so far, leaving Ball an opportunity to play more with the starters and giving coaches a chance to imagine life without them. The recent strong play of TE Julius Thomas has led to some speculation that Denver might keep an extra tight end this year, which would surely come at the expense of one of the RB positions. With Ball currently going outside of the top 30 RBs, the uncertainty surrounding Denver has created a lot of room for value.

Adam Harstad: Now, if Ball does win the starting job as I expect, I don't think Denver's running situation yields another top-10 finish this year. I think Hillman will nibble a bit more around the edges. I think whichever veteran makes the roster will still be a factor. I do think, however, that 200-250 carries are reasonable, as well as all of the goal-line work. Since Denver is one of the top three offenses in the league, that goal line work will be especially valuable, and I think Montee Ball should finish the season as a strong RB2 with upside from there. He's a guy who will be on a lot of my teams this year. If I were looking to be aggressive, I would draft Ball and save my roster spots, ignoring the rest of the group. If I were looking to be more conservative, I'd grab both Ball and Moreno. If I was looking to make a gamble late, I think McGahee is a decent choice; he's currently going as RB51, and while I don't think he makes the team, if he does make the team, I think he has a very good chance of being the featured back again. That's a solid gamble for a 5th RB: either you get a quality piece, or you get an empty roster spot for week 1 waivers.

Let's open the topic up to the field. What do the rest of you think about the Denver RBs this season?

Ryan Hester: Denver's situation is difficult to read at the moment, but it will be easier to read the proverbial tea leaves as training camp begins and the season gets near. One thing that will help is the near certainty that either Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno will be cut. Another thing that will allow fantasy owners to read between the lines more effective is the reports from Denver camp on how Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are performing.

Those two will obviously be compared to one another (and anyone else at the position), which will lead to the coaching staff making comments about both players from which we can glean information. On a team like Denver with such an established leader like Peyton Manning, it's likely that one player will grasp Manning's offense and style better than anyone else and will emerge as "the guy."

At this point, the favorite is Montee Ball. As for his value (or that of whoever is the RB1 in Denver), that position yielded fantastic fantasy results last season. Any player on an offense with Manning has fantasy value. Denver will play an up-tempo pace, which allows plenty of opportunities for all skill players.

Andy Hicks: Adam gave a fantastic and detailed explanation on how this probably breaks down, so I won't comment too much further, but the value is there for those who are in larger leagues. I can't imagine Ball's average draft position stays in the 7th-8th round for much longer, but be it Ball, Moreno, or McGahee, you'll get tremendous value for at least an RB2 return and maybe higher. I don't think Hillman is the guy, but he should be worth a few points every week.

Jason Wood: Montee Ball is overvalued right now. Let me repeat, Montee Ball is overvalued right now. Everyone falls into the rookie mini-camp coach speak each and every year. Why WOULDN'T John Fox and his position coaches say great things about Ball right now? Yet the fact remains this is a championship contender with an aging but elite cornerstone at tight end, and Ball has a lot of convincing to do as a pass blocker based on film study. Everyone is assuming that Willis McGahee is going to be a camp casualty, and no one is giving Ronnie Hillman any credit. Until I see McGahee waived, I'm not going to discount him. If they keep him on the roster he's going to play a lot. Let's assume for the sake of argument they cut McGahee per consensus views, that still leaves Hillman. Our own Cecil Lammey was convinced Hillman could be the long-term answer at RB for Denver last year, and all Hillman has done since is: (a) add 15 pounds of muscle, (b) show an improved understanding of the offense, and (c) stop being a rookie (which is a big deal for John Fox based on history).

Chad Parsons: I think Adam is spot on with his assessment of the 'allure' factor of the Denver backfield. Manning produced fantasy RB1s far more often than the backs would have on their own accord. Willis McGahee was one of the steals in fantasy prior to his injury in 2012. Rookie Montee Ball is currently the highest in terms of early ADP at RB20, which is more than reasonable as the backfield's projected lead man. Moreno, Hillman, McGahee) are RB4+ in terms of cost. One of the good things about this backfield is as fantasy owner of one or more of them, we will have a good indication of the situation early in preseason in my opinion. That means, the rest can be dropped if needed for another flyer prior to the season and monitored on the waiver wire. Ball is the leader in the clubhouse at this stage and would be my bet, especially considering his upside is higher than nearly all the backs around him in ADP. Moreno would be my second choice (RB49) because, while unimpressive when isolating his individual play late in 2012, he did everything that was asked of him. Playing running back in a Peyton Manning offense is not about being a dynamic lead back that carries an offense at any particular time. They must block well, know all the reads and subtleties, and get the yards that are provided through ideal defensive looks. For all those reasons, I give Moreno a realistic shot to see some starts at least at the beginning of the season. Ronnie Hillman I still see as mainly a change-of-pace running at the NFL level and a true long-shot to outright win the starting job. Willis McGahee has been a back that I have predicted to be cut at some point this summer because of the other younger, cheaper runners in this backfield.

Jeff Pasquino: Do I have to? This is not going to be that valuable of a position this year. The Broncos are going to use 11 personnel (3 WRs, 1 RB, 1 TE) as their base formation, and I expect Peyton Manning to have a big year with his top three wideouts. Montee Ball is the most likely guy to be the lead back, but I expect Ball and Hillman to split the workload (about 60-65% to Ball) with neither of them warranting enough production to use on a weekly basis for a fantasy lineup spot. Most of the rest of the guys have beat this dead bronco to a pulp, so I will leave this well enough alone and discuss the other franchises.

Sigmund Bloom: I've learned to not trust John Fox to rely on rookie running backs. For that matter, Peyton Manning is fickle about trusting backs who can't pass block, which is mostly an unknown for Ball. Still, if I had to pick anyone from this group, I guess it would be Ball because Hillman is just a change-of-pace back and one of the Moreno-McGahee pair might not even make the team. I would be most likely to take a shot on the vet that makes the team, and feel Ball is way too risky take in the 4th-5th round, which I have seen in early drafts. This could be a very productive situation, but also one that frustrates with uncertainty. Ultimately, I would say that Ball has the best upside potential as the featured back, but I don't think he's very likely to actually land that role. So what it comes down to is: Do you feel like buying a lottery ticket?

And we'll close out with some thoughts by Cecil Lammey.

Cecil Lammey: I've been at Dove Valley (Broncos HQ) almost every day this offseason. During that time I get a chance to talk with John Fox and new Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase on the sidelines (plus at press conferences) and I've got some interesting observations about this team and their ground game. Let me corroborate what Wood says about Montee Ball. He is SEVERELY overrated at this point. His ADP is RB20 in standard 12 team leagues and that's just too high. Best case scenario for Ball (if he wins the starting job in camp and is the week one starter) is around RB25. He could hit that mark mostly because of his nose for the end zone. When the Broncos have worked in the red zone package it is Ball on the field. However, more than 75% of the time at OTAs when the first-team was on the field it was Ronnie Hillman in the lineup. When I asked Fox if Hillman could be a FULL TIME back he said, "I think he's capable." The Broncos want their 1-2 punch to be Ball as the 1 and Hillman as the 1a. A bit of 'Thunder and Lightning' if you will. Hillman's 22 for 83 yards against the Ravens in the playoffs game was impressive to the team, especially because he did that weighing less than 180 pounds. Now he's worked with Travelle Gaines and rocked up to 195-200 pounds. He also retained his explosiveness and looked more decisive at practice. Several beat writers have commented to me that Hillman 'didn't look like this last year' and I'm not the only reporter he's impressed. Ball has not 'wowed' me at practice. However, I do expect that to change when the shoulder pads come on. This team is not going to give him the starting job as evidenced by the fact he hasn't beat out Hillman and gets only a tiny bit of the first-team reps. We'll see if that increases (as the team wants it to) during training camp. Those assuming Hillman is nothing more than a change of pace back could be sorely mistaken. Hillman could begin the season as the lead back if Ball isn't ready. Manning, Gase, and Fox have all told me how Hillman has improved in pass protection. Moreno and McGahee are fighting for one spot per the Denver Post and neither is a lock to make the final roster. Right now I say Jacob Hester is more of a lock than either Moreno or McGahee. The Broncos could choose Moreno because he's a better pass blocker and more reliable receiver than McGahee.

What's the bottom line?

Cecil Lammey: The bottom line is that this is clearly a RBBC and a mess for fantasy owners. Given Ball's high average draft position, I am avoiding this situation. Hillman could present value early in the season if Ball begins the season as his backup. Ball gets a small bump in TD-premium leagues. Hillman gets a small bump in PPR leagues. The Broncos tempo is not going to be Chip Kelly fast (per Gase) but will still be faster and more spread out than 2012.

Alex Smith in Kansas City

How much of a difference will Alex Smith make at quarterback for the Chiefs?

Matt Waldman: I think the better question is 'how much of a difference will Andy Reid's offense with Alex Smith executing it make for the Chiefs?' If this is indeed a short-passing offense with an emphasis on screen plays to the backs and receivers and seam routes to the tight end, then I think it makes the Chiefs a more competitive team. Fantasy owners will love having Jamaal Charles because he should become a more consistent scoring threat in this offense.

I don't expect Smith to become Donovan McNabb of Arrowhead, but I do think he'll make better decisions than Matt Cassel. We're I'm leery of Smith is the deep passing game. He has never been good at the vertical game during his NFL career so I still think this will be a limitation that haunts the Chiefs against better defenses that can force Kansas City to try it. Smith should be a solid QB2 with some bye-week upside because there is an opportunity for him to post some decent rushing totals to supplement his passing if the team uses the Pistol as much as I hope.

Jason Wood: As Matt said, it's really Andy Reid rather than Alex Smith who will make the biggest difference in Kansas City. Reid has 15+ years on his resume in Philadelphia of fielding productive offenses. You also have to remember that Reid hand-picked Alex Smith early in the offseason. Reid had options. He could've focused on a rookie QB. He could've looked to acquire Carson Palmer or Matt Flynn. He could've traded for the likes of Ryan Mallet or Nick Foles. Instead he raced to acquire Smith and cement him as the starter. People forget that Smith is only 29 years old, and he's now joining an offense that sent Donovan McNabb to 5 NFC Championship games, turned Michael Vick into an MVP candidate, made A.J. Feeley look like an NFL starter, and managed to get productivity and wins from the likes of Koy Detmer and an aging Jeff Garcia. What can Reid do with a cerebral, athletic, accurate passer in his prime? We're about to see and it's going to be COMPELLING.

Jeff Pasquino: Kansas City traded paid a big price (2013 second round pick and a conditional third in 2014) to trade for Smith. I think Smith will be solid, but the questions are regarding his targets. Dwayne Bowe will be the top wide receiver and former Colt Donnie Avery looks to be the other starter. Rookie TE Travis Kelce will give Smith an additional option, plus Jamaal Charles should give Smith a boost with catches out of the backfield. Any time a quarterback has three or more options, especially at different positions, he is in a position to post solid fantasy numbers. Drew Brees has always had a running back out of the backfield that could catch the ball, and Jamaal Charles is going to do the same for Smith. Now, that is likely the first and last time that Brees and Smith will be in the same sentence, but I like Smith to be a solid QB2 this year with spot starter upside in the right matchup.

Rams RBs

Is Daryl Richardson going to assume the featured role left vacant by Steven Jackson's departure, or will Isaiah Pead or Zac Stacy end up the better fantasy picks?

Matt Waldman: I think Richardson has only a 5 percent chance of starting. He is an overachiever who did well relative to the underachieving Pead. The second-year back from Cincinnati may be serving a one-game suspension, but the Rams knew about this and I won't be crucifying Pead for saying he was miserable last year. He came to camp late due to rules about college terms, was behind with the playbook, and never felt a part of the team. He was honest and he's paying for it in the court of public opinion, which to me in this situation is worth about as much as used chewing gum stuck under a table. Pead has ability, but it's the maturity factor as a decision-maker between the tackles that he has to develop. So did Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller. I'll give Pead a 40 percent chance to earn the starting gig or a lead back role and if he does I think 700-900 yards and 4-6 touchdowns is a solid projection. He's a decent flex option this year if this happens. But lump me in with those leading the Zac Stacy brigade. The rookie fits the best as an every-down back. I think he has a 55 percent chance of winning this gig and if he does, 900-1100 yards with 5-7 touchdowns is fitting.

Andy Hicks: Nobody in this group has much experience. Right now I agree with Matt's take on this situation. The one-week suspension for Isaiah Pead could, however, be vital in allowing Richardson or Stacy to usurp any leeway he may make in training camp and the preseason. The shiny new car coming down the driveway always looks better than the one still in the garage.

Jason Wood: Zac Stacy will be the starter. I'm not sure if it'll happen in Week 1, in Week 8, or not until 2014, but he's the long-term play here. I'm not interested in the other guys and think St. Louis will use a patchwork committee this year with no fantasy value unless Stacy emerges.

Jeff Pasquino: I know that many Draftniks (staffers included) love Zac Stacy, but I know what my eyes told me last year, which is that Daryl Richardson is capable of being a true feature tailback if he gets the opportunity. Jeff Fisher wants to use the ground game to compliment Sam Bradford, so there might not be enough footballs to go around, but I have Richardson ahead of Stacy for now with Pead a threat for goal line vulturing (after his one-game suspension).

Mark Wimer: I'm with Jeff, as I think that Daryl Richardson proved his NFL-level skills last year for a pretty bad Rams team: a 4.8 yards-per-carry average while showing good receiving skills last season should definitely earn Richardson strong consideration for the lead role in 2013. How big his lead role will be depends on how Zac Stacy performs during the preseason and in September, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Richardson garnering 65% of the touches from the running back position this year down in St. Louis.

Sigmund Bloom: Stacy is the call here because Richardson isn't built to run inside, and Isaiah Pead is already facing a one-game suspension. Pead commented that he was "miserable" and "tired of football" during his bust of a rookie year, and that candor is enough to make me question his confidence until he proves it is intact on the field. He was not a player that I believed was worthy of a second-round pick when the Rams took him, and they only chose him because their OLB options went off the board right before their pick after they traded down. Stacy is a compact, hard-charging back with enough burst to be the best inside runner and most likely candidate to get the ball when head coach Jeff Fisher wants to establish the run. I think he's got fantasy RB2 potential if he wins the job, which I think is more likely than not.

Cecil Lammey: This is a three-headed race for the starting job, but I prefer rookie Zac Stacy to the others. Pead's one-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy could hold him back in this race. He's the best all-purpose back in this trio, but lacks the instinct of a pro runner at this point. Daryl Richardson is a speed back who stood out to me at the Players All-Star Classic in 2012. He cuts at speed and accelerates quickly but may not be built to be a workhorse back. Stacy is a grinder between the tackles who has a game built on gaining yards after contact. With the Rams offense spread out in their new passing game, a back like Stacy should be able to take advantage of thin defensive fronts. This is an RBBC situation with only RB3 expectations for whoever wins the job.

Mike Wallace in Miami

Will Mike Wallace be a good fit for the Dolphins offense? He was a top ten fantasy WR in 2010 and 2011. What are the odds that he can ever be that productive again?

Matt Waldman: Not as good as those odds once were, because there are very few quarterbacks capable of Ben Roethlisberger's exploits. While there may not be a direct statistical correlation between Roethlisberger's scrambles and huge plays to Wallace, I believe it only took a few of these successful duck, dodge, and heaves for it to open things up for the wide receiver on a broader scope of play calling.

I'm a Ryan Tannehill fan, but I'm not expecting the same Roethlisberger exploits and this means the Dolphins quarterback may find Wallace downfield after escaping the pocket and even make accurate throws, but I think more will be on Wallace's plate to finish the play compared to situations in Pittsburgh where he could turn around and wait on the ball. I think he has a 50% shot of being a top-20 WR and an 80% shot of being a WR3 in a 12-team league.

Jason Wood: I'm very skeptical of this fit. We're spoiled by the likes of Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall, who have bucked the historical trend and performed well in new cities. But Wallace has always been a bit more one dimensional and Ryan Tannehill has a lot to prove before we compare him to Ben Roethlisberger.

Jeff Pasquino: Miami got a top-end wide receiver, signing Mike Wallace away from Pittsburgh on a 5-year, $60M contract that immediately improves the Dolphins' wide receiver corps. Ryan Tannehill has been in search of a decent downfield option, and Wallace becomes his top target immediately. Wallace should easily see 120 or more targets this year, which will put him on a pace to achieve no worse than a high end WR2 status from a fantasy perspective. Both Wallace and Tannehill will develop a rapport for the next several seasons that make this duo a threat in the AFC East, but I think it will take at least one season for Wallace to head back towards the Top 10 for fantasy wide receiver purposes.

Packers RBs

The Packers drafted two highly regarded running backs this year in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. Who's the guy to own here in redraft leagues?

Matt Waldman: Lacy and Franklin are going over 50 picks apart right now. I think Lacy has a shot at double-digit touchdowns this year. If he can approach 800 yards, he's a solid fantasy starter. If he can't stay healthy and gets hurt as the Steelers and Broncos expect, Franklin has the savvy, toughness, and versatility to become a rookie fantasy darling. I hate the starting point for these two backs but I won't be surprised if one of them becomes a long-term fantasy option at the expense of the other. Harris-Green-Starks are all interesting players if you study them in college like I did, but if you're simply seeking bottom-line answers then I suggest you keep them in mind on the waiver wire if injuries hit the depth chart hard. Note I threw Alex Green into that mix. DeAngelo Pease from Kansas State is another player to monitor this summer. Perhaps he displaces one of the Harris-Green-Starks triumvirate. I see Lacy as the 800-yard, 8 touchdown type of back: 15-20 range for fantasy owners. Franklin has 30-36 range upside as a receiver and third down, up-tempo option. I think it's probably a 65 percent chance that Lacy is the starter and a 35 percent chance Franklin wins the job. They are the only two Green Bay backs worth an investment right now in fantasy drafts.

Andy Hicks: The competition will be between Lacy, Franklin, and Harris. I expect whichever rookie picks up the pass protection the best to land the gig. If neither can be trusted to protect Aaron Rodgers, then we'll see a lot of DuJuan Harris. All else being equal, though, I have to give my preference to Lacy who was projected by many to be drafted in the first round. Falling all the way to pick 61 will be extra motivation for him.

Jason Wood: This reminds me a lot of the Patriots situation last year. EVERYONE was talking about New England possibly throwing for 6,000 yards and completely discounting the running attack as both a committee and limited by the projected run-pass ratio. I argued vehemently that New England has always been an effective running team and that last year Belichick was likely to zig when most thought he would zag. I was dead on and the running game was resurgent and yielded a fantasy star in Ridley. I see the same happening in Green Bay. The Packers NEED more balance. Aaron Rodgers knows it and has asked for it. You don't pay Rodgers the kind of money they're paying him and not heed his plea for a better ground attack. Ted Thompson clearly knows it, which is why he used two April draft picks on running backs. Now I'm not so sure Mike McCarthy knows it, but he better. In terms of this group of RBs, I'm ALL IN on Lacy. He's the 2nd rounder, he's the guy on film that looks like a dominant NFL tailback, and he's the one that can be had several rounds later than comparable players because of a misplaced "injury prone" label. I'm less enthused about Franklin. He's small, and under the best circumstances looks to be a complementary piece of the puzzle.

Will Grant: What makes Lacy such an interesting pick for Green Bay is the short yardage potential. Aaron Rodgers has 13 touchdown passes from six yards or less. He had a couple more from eight yards out and even had a six yard rushing TD. Is Rodgers just that good or was the running game just that bad? I'd have to say it's a combination of both. With a back like Lacy in the mix now, the Packers should be able to run the ball more in those situations. I fully expect Rodgers to spread the field and find the open man still, but if Lacy takes even half those passes into the end zone, he's going to be a stud fantasy back. Harris is another interesting back. He closed out the season strong and had two rushing TDS in the two playoff games that the Packers were in. In Dynasty leagues, he was the hot pickup before the draft. Mike McCarthy praised Harris back in March, saying that the Packers "feel good" about Harris being on the team. But Harris is more of a change-of-pace guy though, rather than a 350+ touch a season guy. Look for him to see some action, but probably not enough to be a starter on your fantasy team.

Jeff Pasquino: I am going to agree with Jason here ... to an extent. Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin were great draft picks for the Packers, who desperately needed to upgrade a woeful ground game from last season. Lacy has the better pedigree (Round 2 pick, Alabama, national champion, etc.) but Franklin has more of a chip on his shoulder (Round 4 pick, UCLA) and a bigger pre-draft buzz. I like reading the tea leaves here, and that tells me that the Packers want to have a more balanced offense, which means more rushing and less passing. Will points out all the opportunities for short yardage touchdowns, so if Lacy or Franklin become the top dog, the upside is pretty high. I like Franklin more for this year because he is cheaper (later pick) and doesn't have the toe injury concerns that Lacy has today.

Mark Wimer: I'm going to make plays for Eddie Lacy in most fantasy drafts this year. The uncertainty generated by his toe injury and subsequent surgery has created a drafting opportunity for fantasy owners. He's undervalued and as multiple other Footballguys have noted, the Packers want a better-balanced offense this year with a larger dose of (effectively) running the football. I think the backups (Franklin, Harris, Starks, Green) will be sorted out by an all-out camp battle. Once we see who has grabbed the #2 job in Green Bay, I'd spend a late-round pick to acquire Lacy's backup, but in early drafts my strategy would be to scoop Lacy slightly ahead of his ADP (64th overall, RB 26) and then use the waiver wire to pick up whichever of the other backs on the roster end up as RB #2 in Green Bay.

Cecil Lammey: I like both Lacy and Franklin here. In fact, in this lackluster class these were my top two backs. Lacy is the power back with good feet and a wicked spin move. However, durability is the reason he fell in the draft and it could hold him back as a pro. Franklin is a better all-purpose runner and showed at the Senior Bowl that he could get to the corner consistently. He is an inside-out runner who can run between the tackles and has a good burst at the second level. I like his ability as a receiver out of the backfield. This is Lacy's job to lose. If healthy he could be everything the Packers envisioned. However, if he doesn't stay healthy then Franklin could take this job and run with it. Harris looks good when the holes are huge, but so did James Starks. The key for a RB is vision and the ability to create on your own. Starks lacks that talent and so far Harris hasn't convinced me he can make a way when there's no way. A healthy Lacy is a low end RB2. Franklin as the starter is around the same level (RB28) but gets a slight bump in PPR leagues.

That will do it for this edition of the Footballguys Roundtable. Please join us again next time.