The Fantasy Implications of MarShawn Lloyd as a Green Bay Packer

May 17, 2024
The Fantasy Implications of MarShawn Lloyd as a Green Bay Packer

With the 88th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected USC running back MarShawn Lloyd as the fourth RB off the board. Viewed by some as the top back in the class, Lloyd went five picks behind Blake Corum (to the Rams) and well behind Jonathon Brooks and Trey Benson. Still, third-round capital is nothing to sneeze at for running backs in fantasy, and there is a lot to like in Lloyd's game.

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MarShawn Lloyd's Prospect Profile

Lloyd spent two years at South Carolina before transferring to USC as a junior. All told, his counting stats are less than impressive, as his total collegiate production falls well behind the majority of backs in the 2024 class. Fortunately, the rate metrics offer some solid consolation. As a receiver, Lloyd averaged more than 13 yards per reception in his three seasons. The only Power Five RB with a higher average on at least 30 catches in that span was Bijan Robinson. As a rusher, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry in his career but jacked that number up to 7.1 as a junior at USC. That ranked third among Power Five RBs with 100+ carries last year, and he forced a missed tackle on 41% of his carries, which was number one among that same group.

The biggest statistical knock on the new Packers rusher is probably ball security. Lloyd had seven fumbles on just 291 career carries — his rate of roughly one fumble every 40 carries was essentially the worst in college football. Transposing that to an RB1 workload at the NFL level would put him near the "top" of the position and be a fast track to the pine for many coaches.

On tape, Lloyd is shifty and explosive (with a PlayerProfiler size-adjusted speed score in the 93rd percentile). Combining a 5-foot-9, 220-pound frame with 4.46 speed sets him up extremely well to carry a legitimate workload and pick up chunk plays at the next level — perhaps the two biggest factors to success in fantasy. There are definitely red flags in his profile — the fumbles, injury concerns, and questionable pass protection could all keep him off the field for stretches in the pros — but he is versatile and exciting in a way that offers a ton of upside.

If you need a good barometer for the range of outcomes, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah had Lloyd as his #56 overall prospect and top running back in the class ... while his colleague Bucky Brooks didn't even have the Trojan in his top five at the position. Considering Lloyd's athletic ability and three-down skillset, he probably has the highest upside of any rookie runner ... but that ceiling comes with a dangerously low floor that makes him a much riskier pick.

And the selection by the Packers offers little clarity ... especially in the short term.

How MarShawn Lloyd Fits With the Packers

The most obvious question mark on Lloyd's landing spot in Green Bay is the presence of Josh Jacobs. The former Raider signed a 4-year, $48 million contract in Titletown back in March, and figures to be the immediate replacement for Aaron Jones (who landed in Minnesota). GM Brian Gutekunst paid Jacobs like a top-tier running back, so I expect him to lead the depth chart for as long as he's there.

Therein lies the rub. "As long as he's there." Green Bay has a realistic out in Jacob's contract after this season, before a $5.9 million roster bonus they'd owe him in mid-March of 2025. They would burn a decent amount of dead money in that scenario but would also save $2 million against the cap. The third-round investment in Lloyd feels like insurance for that eventuality ... and the likelihood depends heavily on which version of Jacobs we get in 2024.

Back in 2022, the former first-round pick led the NFL with 393 touches and 2,053 scrimmage yards, rushed for 12 scores, averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the ground, and earned First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Then last season, he missed four games and finished with just 1,101 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging an abysmal 3.5 yards per carry and looking sluggish and uncreative in a rudderless Las Vegas offense.

Josh Jacobs Output, 2022-23
Metric 2022 2023
Yards/Carry 4.9 3.5
Scrimmage Yards 2,053 1,101
Touchdowns 12 6
Games Missed 0 4

If Matt LaFleur and Co. get the Jacobs of 2022, there will be little to no room for Lloyd (or perennial Green Bay backup A.J. Dillon) to make a major fantasy impact in 2024. Lloyd is in some ways a carbon copy of Jacobs and would likely be little more than a change-of-pace option barring injury. But if Jacobs has lost a step — and starts 2024 as slowly as he did 2023 — the playoff-hopeful Packers could quickly turn to the newer model and start riding the rookie later in the season (after their Week 10 bye, for example).

Long-term, Lloyd could be an excellent successor to Jacobs (and Jones before him), which makes him an extremely intriguing pick in dynasty. If the Pack do indeed move on from Jacobs after this season, and Lloyd steps into the lead role alongside Jordan Love in this ascending offense, he could have legitimate RB1 upside a year from today.

Projecting the Packers Offense in Fantasy Football

For now, it's safest to assume that the Jacobs we see in 2024 falls somewhere between his All-Pro 2022 self and his plodding 2023 self. In that case, we can likely hand him the typical RB1 workload under Matt LaFleur, which should be around 220-230 carries and 40-50 receptions. Given his average efficiency, that would likely put him around 1,200 total yards and close to 10 scores. As long as nothing goes awry for the 26-year-old, he'll be a mid-to-high-end RB2 with RB1 upside this season. Lloyd and Dillon will be competing for the scraps, and while I expect Lloyd to win that competition and come out ahead in opportunities, it won't be enough to make your starting lineup with Jacobs at the helm.

The Packers should have one of the league's better offensive lines (despite releasing LT David Bakhtiari this offseason), including the addition of first-round rookie Jordan Morgan. Along with the arsenal of young weapons at his disposal, this sets up fifth-year quarterback Jordan Love to take another step forward in his long-awaited and promising development. He was the fantasy QB5 last year in his first stint as the starter, with an extremely young receiving corps to boot. And while ADP (QB10 on Underdog) and rankings (QB9 on 4for4, QB10 in consensus) would suggest Love belongs in a tier below C.J. Stroud, Joe Burrow, Anthony Richardson, and Dak Prescott ... I'm a little more bullish on the young stud. With Jacobs and Lloyd at his disposal out of the backfield, and a year of growth for his young receivers, I think Love belongs in that QB5-QB8 range.

Speaking of those youngsters ... Love's top five receivers last year were all below 24 years old and four of five were rookies. Christian Watson is the "elder statesman" of the current depth chart at a fresh 25 years old, while Jayden Reed (24), Romeo Doubs (24), and Dontayvion Wicks (22) fill out the rest of the wide receiver corps and Luke Musgrave (23) and Tucker Kraft (23) lead the tight end room. You have to imagine several of those guys take a step forward in 2024, though the difficulty is predicting which one(s) are worth the investment in fantasy.

Packers' Leading Receivers - 2023 Season
Player Season Age NFL Season Receptions
Jayden Reed 23 Rookie 64
Romeo Doubs 23 2nd 59
Dontayvion Wicks 22 Rookie 39
Luke Musgrave 23 Rookie 34
Tucker Kraft 23 Rookie 31

At cost, I'd be drafting a good amount of Reed (WR34 ADP) and Doubs (WR54), who have the best chance to lead the squad in catches and yards (Reed) and touchdowns (Doubs) by my projections. Still, someone on the depth chart will have to make a surprising stand as a true alpha to crack WR2 status and make your lineup on a weekly basis. Otherwise, most of them will rotate in value throughout the year and finish somewhere in the WR3-WR5 range. Musgrave is a solid backup tight end if your league is deep enough for such endeavors and could end up as a low-end TE1 with some touchdown luck.

Bottom Line

  • MarShawn Lloyd was one of the top running back prospects in this draft class (number one for some), earned Day 2 draft capital, and went to an ascending offense in Green Bay ... but enters the league with a few red flags and lands behind a freshly-paid Josh Jacobs for the immediate future.
  • He has great size, excellent movement skills, and legitimate three-down upside, so if he can overcome ball-security, health, and pass-protection concerns, Lloyd could carve himself a useful role in the short-term and a potential lead job in the future.
  • Green Bay's offense is packed with young talent (pun intended) and Jordan Love is developing into the franchise QB they reached for back in 2020 ... if Lloyd earns the starting job, he'd be a threat for RB1 fantasy numbers very quickly.
  • According to current Underdog best ball drafts, Lloyd is coming off the board as the RB45 (146 ADP). That price assumes he sits behind Jacobs the entire year, so injury or underperformance from the veteran could mean a massive return on investment with Lloyd. He's a great RB4 or RB5 in best ball and an intriguing late-round bench stash in typical redraft leagues. In dynasty, his value is much higher (given the long-term prognosis) and he should be the third or fourth running back taken in most rookie drafts, somewhere in the second round. I personally snagged him at 11.01 in a dynasty startup this month, shortly behind Aaron Jones and David Montgomery.
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