Green Bay Packers Fantasy Profile: Week 1

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Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) hands off the ball to running back Eddie Lacy (27) during the first quarter against the New England Patriots in a preseason NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

RB – Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Alonzo Harris, John Kuhn

Last Season:
Lacy – 246 carries, 1,139 rushing yards, 42 catches, 427 receiving yards, 13 total TDs (9 rushing TDs); 230.60 fantasy points
Starks – 85 carries, 333 rushing yards, 18 catches, 140 receiving  yards, 2 total TDs (2 rushing TDs); 59.30 fantasy points
Kuhn – 24 carries, 85 rushing yards, 4 catches, 23 receiving  yards, 1 total TDs (1 rushing TDs); 16.80 fantasy point
Harris – N/A (rookie)
Ripkowski – N/A (rookie)

After a successful 2014 season that saw the Packers offense continue using the balance it established in 2013, we have a great group of runners here to look forward to.

It all starts with the bulldozer, Eddie Lacy. He’s really another Beast-Mode incarnate; he straight-up runs through whatever defense tries to stop him. He doesn’t quite have the same game-breaking tendency that the original (Marshawn Lynch) has, but he’s no doubt a monstrous load to take down.

The biggest issue surrounding Lacy may be his propensity for slow starts, though that may be more perception than reality overall. Sure, he wasn’t gangbusters to start either of his seasons, but that has also been brought on by a combination of injuries (ex: the concussion he has to start his rookie season) and tough defenses (the Seahawks/Jets/Lions trifecta that began 2014).

This year he is healthy and the Bears don’t appear to pose nearly the same challenge as last season’s slate of opposing squads. They were middle-of-the-pack in terms of stopping the run last season (112.8 ypg; 16th) and are in the process of switching to a 3-4 base defense with mostly 4-3 personnel. To simplify that last part, this basically means that the guys they have aren’t necessarily suited or prepared to in the specific positions they are set to be in.

Add in that the Packers could possibly seek to do more running than in recent years (due to Jordy’s injury and the relative inexperience of the players now set to receive his snaps) and this is the perfect spot for them to feed Lacy and get him off to a great start.

Aug 29, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) catches a pass during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field. Philadelphia won 39-26. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Lacy is the powerful complement of Starks. Starks used to have injury issues that held down his effectiveness, but since Lacy arrived he has been much healthier and performed well as his backup.

Starks brings a good portion of the power Lacy exhibits, but also has more of a slashing quality to go with it that can frustrate defenses immensely.

With him staying healthy in his fewer snaps, he has been much more efficient, and is a threat to break off big gains of his own when he gets the call.

If Lacy should ever miss time (not likely) or just need a breather (more plausible), he is liable to make a nice impact.

I don’t expect that to be enough this week, but if the score gets out of hand early, he could manage a nice day himself.

Kuhn is the ‘Ol Reliable of the group, the fan favorite that continues to receive love even as his role steadily decreases. He can still see time as a short-yardage and pass-protector (remember that season-saving block against now-Packer Julius Peppers in 2013?), but his yardage isn’t likely to be high.

He can still vulture some TDs here and there (which I see happening this weekend), but his value is short outside of emergency cases.

Harris is the surprise #3 running back, winning the job over more-likely candidate Rajion Neal.

The Packers must have been enamoured with his power element and pass blocking, because that is almost certainly why he got the spot over Neal.

He probably sees little time outside of a blowout — if he’s even active — but if he does get the chance he might produce a nice line at some point.

If there’s ever an injury above him, he may be worth a look; until then, I wouldn’t bother much with him. Same goes for Ripkowski, who made the roster for special teams work.

If Kuhn gets hurt he may see those goal-line dives, but again, wait until an injury to bother even spending a single thought on him.

Week 1 Prediction:
Lacy – 110 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, 1 Total TDs; 20.00 fantasy points
Starks – 45 rushing yards; 4.50 fantasy points
Kuhn – 2 rushing yards, 1 Total TDs; 6.20 fantasy points
Harris – 20 rushing yards; 2.00 fantasy points
Ripkowski – 0.00 fantasy points

Verdict: Must-Start (Lacy); Low-Reward Backup Plan (Starks); TD-Dependent Emergency (Kuhn); Wait For Injuries, Then Wait Some More (Harris/Ripkowski)