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James Starks: Why Packers RB Is a Great Fantasy Pickup

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
Bobby KittredgeContributor IIINovember 23, 2016

Five weeks into the NFL season, maybe things on your fantasy football team are not going as planned. If that’s the case, Green Bay running back James Starks deserves your attention sooner than later.

Perhaps your situation at RB is a mess after everyone and their mother told you to draft Chris Johnson, and you foolishly listened. Perhaps you gambled with a trade for Michael Bush as soon as Matt Forte went down, only to see Forte come back and Bush hardly touch the football. Or maybe one of your starting spots was depending on Cedric Benson, who went down with a foot injury on Sunday and has already been ruled out by head coach Mike McCarthy for next week’s game against the Texans, per Adam Schefter.

Packers HC Mike McCarthy said RB Cedric Benson will not play Sunday vs Texans due to a foot injury.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 8, 2012

Time to look at the Packers’ depth chart!

In the No. 2 spot is Alex Green, a second-year University of Hawaii product who picked up 55 yards on nine carries once Benson went down. Green is entirely untested, however—his nine carries on Sunday brought his career total to 14. If you are in absolutely dire need of a flex play next week, Green is worth a look, but don’t expect much.

The better pickup lies a spot deeper on the Green Bay depth chart, with James Starks. Starks has not played a snap this season due to a nagging turf toe injury, but he was rumored to return in Week 5 and claims he’s ready. In fact, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Starks is healthy and waiting for a chance to get back into the offense.  

With Benson down, that chance has come. Starks has proven himself effective with the Packers over the last two seasons, stepping in for an injured Ryan Grant to help Green Bay win the Super Bowl and then amassing nearly 800 all-purpose yards in 2011 despite injury issues of his own.

While Green will get his chance in the backfield, if Starks is truly as healthy as he says he is, his experience makes him the more trustworthy option. He could very well win a trial-by-fire competition over Green, making him the Packers’ top back.

If you can spare a bench spot on your roster, pick him up and follow the news surrounding the Green Bay backs over the next couple of weeks. If Benson stays hurt and Starks stays healthy, the latter could become the rarest of fantasy RB steals: A total non-factor at the beginning of the year who comes back to carry his owners’ teams.

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