Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson is out for the foreseeable future, and Alex Green will be starting in his place while James Starks waits in the wings—a fantasy football conundrum for running back-needy owners.
According to CBSSports.com's James Carlton, head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say about his running backs:
"I have no time for competition. We're going to take the hot hand...The first carry will be Alex Green. He's a little farther ahead than James is right now and that's the way we'll go. But we have three halfbacks and we'll utilize all three of them. Alex and James both got reps today (with the starters), and so did Brandon Saine."
Reading between the lines, it's clear that Green has an opportunity to take take the reins as the team's unquestioned starter, as long as he continues playing like he did in Week 5 when he ran for 63 yards on 10 carries.
Starks has yet to post any stats this season as he's been recovering from a turf-toe injury he suffered in the preseason.
Let's take a closer look at what these two running backs bring to the table.
Starks is a three-year veteran with the Packers. Before this season, he had made 16 career starts and had been made a solid contribution to the team.
In his career, Starks has carried the ball 162 times for 679 yards (4.2 yards per carry) with one touchdown and has caught 31 passes for 231 yards (7.5 yards per reception) with zero touchdowns.
During his three-year career at the University of Buffalo, Starks ran for 3,140 yards on 698 carries (4.5 yards per carry) with 34 touchdowns and caught 127 passes for 898 yards (7.1 yards per reception) and three touchdowns.
ESPN.com's Insider scouting report on Starks reads:
Starks has good size, strength and athleticism for the position. He shows deceptive agility and balance with the ball in his hands. He has good vision and runs with good pad level to move the pile. Starks has solid receiving skills in the passing game.
While Starks has never been particularly explosive, he's a reliable running back who can be counted on to move the chains in both the running game and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Green was drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Packers out of the University of Hawaii. He made the team's roster and had made a minor contribution to the team before injuring his knee in Week 7, missing the rest of the season.
After the game, McCarthy called the injury "very unfortunate" and told reporters that the team was impressed with the progress Green had been making and had been looking for him to make more of a contribution to the team in the latter part of the year (h/t OregonLive.com).
Considering that Green made the team again this year after his injury, it's clear that McCarthy wasn't full of hot air.
During his tenure at Hawaii, Green carried the ball 232 times for 1,652 yards (7.1 yards per carry) with 20 touchdowns and caught 38 passes for 461 yards (12.1 yards per reception) with two touchdowns.
ProFootballWeekly.com's Nolan Nawrocki's scouting report on Green reads: "A big, upright, finesse, downhill runner, Green chewed up nickel and dime defenses, prompting evaluators to take notice of his size and ability to rip off chunks of yardage."
Given that the Packers run so many three-wide-receiver sets, Green's skill set seems to mesh perfectly with this team's makeup on offense.
From a fantasy perspective, Starks isn't someone I'd be willing to claim off waivers. He's going to see action as a third-down back, but I don't expect him to overtake Green on the depth chart.
Which running back will have a bigger impact for the Packers?
Green, on the other hand, is worth taking a strong look at if you're in a deep league.
A big back with speed, wiggle and explosion, Green has the ability to make defenders miss and is simply more of a threat to take a play to the house than Starks.
Unless Green gets injured, he's the man who will benefit the most from Benson's unfortunate injury, and he's going to be a decent flex option for your fantasy league.