James Starks has taken over as the No. 1 back for the Green Bay Packers, and with Ryan Grant gone he won't be splitting carries 50-50 with anyone.
Starks is a beast who has the athletic ability to become a stud running back. Given what he can do and his role in Green Bay's offense, he could be poised for a breakout year in 2012.
Here are five reasons you should draft him on to your fantasy team this year.
If you haven't seen Starks run the football, you should take a minute to watch some highlights. The guy runs like a truck, and he doesn't shy from contact. In fact, he seems to relish it. He always keeps his legs churning, and if he can stay healthy, he'll be a beast in his third season.
At 6'2" and 218 pounds, Starks has the size to be a legitimate No. 1 back. He is reportedly down to seven percent body fat, according to the Journal Sentinel, and is faster than he has ever been in his career. That should only help his explosiveness, as I don't see him changing his running style as he gets more carries.
Starks is going to be Green Bay's top back in 2012, and he is one of the few runners in the NFL who is a legitimate three-down back.
In 2011, while playing part-time, he rushed for 578 yards on 133 carries. He also caught 29 passes for 216 yards.
He has the ability to help as a receiver out of the backfield, which is invaluable with a guy like Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
While fellow running backs Alex Green and Brandon Saine will see time in the backfield, Starks has more upside and experience than either of those guys. Expect him to be on the field for a majority of Green Bay's snaps in 2012.
In 2011, the Packers had the most efficient offense in the NFL. They averaged 35.0 points per game—the best in the NFL—and also boasted the NFL's third-best passing attack (307.8 yards per game).
Additionally, quarterback Aaron Rodgers set an NFL record with a passer rating of 122.5 while spreading the ball around to all of his receivers. Rodgers completed 25 or more passes to seven players, including Starks.
When a team has an offense that prolific, everyone ends up scoring fantasy points. Starks will benefit from the wealth of talent around him and is sure to get plenty of goal-line opportunities.
Ryan Grant led the Packers with 134 carries in 2011, and Starks finished the year with 133. With Grant gone, Starks is by far the most experienced runner on the roster.
Alex Green and Brandon Saine combined for just 21 rushes as rookies last season, and the rest of the team's depth chart is filled out by rookies Marc Tyler and Nicholas Cooper.
That means Starks will be considered the team's veteran back in just his third season. Though he's only 26, Starks is the old man in Green Bay's backfield. They should rely on him a lot in 2012.
Starks was a sixth-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft and has been bothered by injuries in both his college and professional careers. Now that he's been given the chance to be Green Bay's starting running back, he has to prove he belongs.
He'll be lining up behind reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, and if the team's offense struggles, he could be considered the weak link.
He has to know the kind of pressure he'll be facing. But by the way he's prepared himself for the 2012 season, it's obvious that he's taking his role seriously.
Starks has worked hard to get himself in shape. If he proves he can be a durable No. 1 back, expect him to have a huge season.