Pro Football Focus uses a complex system to analyze every NFL player involved in every snap in every game and assigns a grade based on how he performed on that play, with each position having its own set of grading guidelines. Plus/minus scores are given in 0.5 increments and a small normalization factor is applied to make 0.0 the average grade for a game or season. To learn more, visit www.profootballfocus.com.
Eddie Lacy and James Starks are being deployed as a "one-two punch," according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who implied that the veteran running backs could be used interchangeably this season. The numbers so far bear that out: Each has been in on 185 plays, with Starks earning a slightly higher overall production grade (+1.5 to +1.1). Starks grades out particularly well as a runner (+2.4), but has two drops and a fumble as a receiver (-2.0)
Starks has been much more productive than during the 2014 season, the first in which he appeared in all 16 regular-season games (plus two playoff games). His overall production grade last year was -4.2. In stark contrast, Lacy last season had an overall grade of +22.3.
On the strength of his 65-yard touchdown run Sunday against the Chargers, Starks leads all NFL running backs in Breakaway Percentage (which is the percentage of a runner's total yardage that is gained on big plays, defined as runs of 15 yards or more) at 43.7 percent. Next best is Chris Ivory of the Jets at 43.3 percent.
Starks also bests Lacy in Elusive Rating, which quantifies a running back's ability to make things happen independent of his blocking, both as a runner and a receiver (broken tackles and yards after contact). Starks ranks 30th out of 50 NFL running backs and Lacy (who last season ranked third) is 36th. Dion Lewis of the Patriots leads the NFL in this category this season.
Lacy and Starks are virtually even in Pass Blocking Efficiency, which roughly shows the percentage of time a player is able to keep his quarterback clean when he's in pass protection. Sacks allowed are weighted more heavily than hurries or hits. Lacy is 21st in the league at 96.1 percent, Starks is 22nd at 95.8 percent (12 players share the lead at 100 percent).
Who's the Packers' highest-rated overall rusher this season? That would be quarterback Aaron Rodgers (+4.4).