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Fantasy Debate: Eddie Lacy vs Johnathan Franklin

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Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are now teammates, but but they'll battle each other for fantasy supremacy. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The fantasy community celebrated when the Green Bay Packers drafted Eddie Lacy in the second round of the NFL draft. The fantasy community was horrified when they also selected Johnathan Franklin in the fourth round.

What does it mean for the die-hard fantasy redrafter and dynasty guy? Let’s examine each player.

Eddie Lacy was the clear, top rookie running back all offseason. The problem is that over the pre-draft "season" as it were, discussion regarding Lacy transformed from his on-field talent to his injuries. A report on a big toe fusion surgery by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hasn’t helped Lacy’s post-draft stock. Note that after the procedure, which was before his junior season, Lacy ran for 1,300-plus yards in slightly more than 200 carries last year.

One thing about Lacy that you can’t say about most running back prospects is that he might have had a better offensive line in college than he will at the NFL level. Alabama had three offensive linemen drafted, including two in the Top 11 picks.

If you believe that draft position determines a depth chart, Lacy has a leg up on the second guy the Packers drafted. I wasn’t going to write "toe" there just to be clever.

Johnathan Franklin was one of the running backs making the greatest charge up the fictional pre-draft boards. I’ll quote a guy who knows his rookie running backs, one Matt Waldman. “The UCLA runner has a strong understanding of how to maximize yards. He was often conceptually more impressive in a pro-style offense as an underclassman when UCLA was an overmatched team.”

Franklin played special teams at UCLA, even when he became the starting running back. That’s a useful talent that will get him on the field early even if he doesn’t get a lot of RB snaps.

What’s unusual about Franklin among Packers draft picks is that the Packers traded up to get him in the fourth round of the NFL draft. That’s a rare move for this front office.

There isn’t a large difference in terms of talent between the two players. Lacy’s more likely to bowl guys over, and Franklin’s the more cerebral player. The training camp battle between the two is going to be one of the most closely watched ones in the entire league. Oh yeah, don’t forget guy who started both playoff games last year, DuJuan Harris.

Lacy has the name recognition and therefore is going to be the first guy taken. Because of the injury concerns and the lack of talent disparity, Franklin seems like the better draft-day buy to me, in a redraft or a dynasty, especially when you factor in cost.