Training camps for all NFL teams are kicking off today and tomorrow. If that doesn't raise your excitement for the upcoming real and fake football seasons, I don't know what will.
For all player, injury and team updates as teams get going, go here.
Trying to guess which fantasy football rookie rushers will be the Doug Martin of 2013 is also surely to peak many fans' interests. There are some big names out there that are receiving more draft love as the season approaches, including Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell and Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard.
Bell and Bernard are in good situations and could be the best first-year runners this year. But what about Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy? I was recently asked which running back I thought would have the better season this year.
Is Ball a bona fide No. 1?
Both backs are on great teams, and it never hurts to be lining up behind Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in your first season. For that reason alone, despite having yet to take a single handoff in the NFL, Ball and Lacy won't come cheaply in drafts this summer.
If I had to put money on one of them this year, though, I'm betting Lacy is more productive. Health will be the major question behind whether Lacy can deliver in his first year, but the Packers want him to end a string of seasons in which the Cheese Heads have failed to find any consistency with a primary rusher.
Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and James Starks have all been tried (largely unsuccessfully) and are still on roster, but they're only around for depth now. Johnathan Franklin is the only real threat to unseat Lacy if he struggles or is injured, and Franklin is a rookie, too.
Lacy's size (5-foot-11, 230 pounds), physical running style and ability to break tackles give him a distinct advantage as a true No. 1 back that Green Bay has coveted for a long time.
Ball, on the other, has a much more extensive and successful collegiate resume to show for, but he also carries durability concerns and has plenty of wear on his tires.
In Denver, he'll enter training camp as a third-down option behind second-year slasher Ronnie Hillman. Don't forget, Knowshon Moreno is still around, too. It's becoming clear that the Broncos eventually want Ball to take the lead-back role from Hillman, but he won't be rushed into that job, especially if Peyton Manning has anything to say about it.
Manning and the coaching staff seem to be more comfortable heading into the regular season with Hillman as the main toter, and pass protection skills may have a lot to do with that. I see Ball eventually seeing a larger percentage of touches out of the backfield as the season wears on, depending on how he develops on the job.
But Lacy should see a heavy workload starting in Week 1, and although the Packers won't become a run-first offense suddenly, Lacy should have plenty of room to run as Rodgers and Co. stretch the field through the air.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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