James Starks: Injured Packers RB Has Become Automatic Fantasy Drop

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 11, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball against the New York Giants during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Even though Green Bay Packers running back James Starks was absolutely relevant in fantasy football for the entirety of the 2011 season, a nagging injury has made him a complete afterthought in your league, for now.

Starks injured himself by getting a turf toe before this season and was inactive for the Packers' season opener against San Francisco Sunday, per Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The three-year pro's career started late after a rookie season where he played in just three games, but he turned it on in a big way in 2011.

He played in 13 games, carried the ball 133 times and put up 578 rushing yards.

That's an impressive 4.3 yards per carry, by the way.

He only scampered into the end zone once, but he added 29 receptions through the air for an amazing 216 yards to average 7.4 yards per catch.

Though, it's not looking like Starks will be relevant at all in ESPN Fantasy Football leagues this season. He's only owned in 6.7 percent of leagues

That number will rise if Starks makes it back on the active roster, but not enough to warrant keeping him on your team if you own him. 

Starks' lack of goal-line touches definitely hurt his fantasy value in 2011, but there's no doubt that he was money in the bag for the Packers in the middle of the field. His stats (courtesy of ESPN) only prove it—out of his 133 carries last season, 31 of them were for first downs. That's an impeccable 23.3 first downs per carry percentage. 

Starks is undeniably a huge asset to Green Bay's offense, and it seemed to hurt them in their season opener against that dominant 49ers defense as they were unable to set the tone early and had to play from behind.

If they cannot rely on Starks to be a consistent go-to guy as far as extending drives, his absence will affect much more than just the fantasy owners.

So, if Starks is this valuable to the Packers, they'll certainly use him at will if he can heal up enough to get back on the field sooner rather than later. 

They're going to have to rely on newly acquired RB Cedric Benson to carry the load until Starks returns, and that didn't bode well for them in Week 1. Benson turned nine carries into just 18 yards, while Aaron Rodgers rushed only five times and accumulated 27 yards.

The former Buffalo Bull (not Bill) has proven his worth to the Packers offense, and now it's time for him to get healthy and reverse their 0-1 start. But the longer he remains out with this nagging turf toe, the longer he remains an unnecessary part of your fantasy bench.