Meet James Starks
In the midst of all the Ryan Grant hysteria and all the analyzing and over-analyzing of Brandon Jackson and his skill set, some people might be missing the boat. The boat, in this scenario is James Starks, who you might remember from our preseason rookie running back rankings. And, to be fair, this boat will be docked for over a month. That said, nothing has changed as far as our preseason assessment is concerned. If you apply a little abstract logic, you might reach the same conclusion that we have; Starks is a potential monster -- this year. Now, in fairness, this is where things get tricky. Starks is on the PUP list and he has been battling a nasty hamstring injury for well over a month. This has caused him to take a back seat in all of the Grant replacement discussions. So, regardless of whether or not you want Starks, there are issues with roster management (shallow leagues with shallow benches) and with patience as he's out until week seven at minimum. Waiting is always tough. Just ask the guys who drafted Big Ben, Santonio Holmes or V-Jax. That said, what would a potential RB1 be worth to you mid-season? This guy is potentially just that.
The unknowns are many. Will Brandon Jackson take the ball and produce? Will Starks get healthy? Will the Pack make a deal in the interim? Will the newly acquired Dimitri Nance get a chance and run with it? There are many things that could derail the Starks scenario. Still, Starks has crazy upside if he ever gets a start in the Pack's 2010 offense. He is a very exciting player with the ball in his hands.
Consider the following before calling me crazy. When Ryan Grant was 100%, the Pack still avoided releasing Starks or placing him on IR. This is a strong indication that Green Bay wanted to use him this year even with Grant healthy. Then consider the following quote from Green Bay Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
"He's a big, athletic running back, and I think he has the ability to be a three-down player"
Is there anything about that quote that we need to explain? We like big. We like athletic and we LOVE three-down backs! Now, we understand that the vast majority of leagues will make it very tough to roster a player like Starks. Most of you will have to play wait and see with him. That said, if you are in a really deep league or a league with keepers or a dynasty league, we would roster this player immediately if you have the space. Maybe you'll end up cutting him in a week or what have you based on external factors like the ones we outlined above, but if Jackson struggles and Green Bay sits tight, Starks could be the reason they play it that way. It's very clear that they like this kid. One thing McCarthy did not mention was Starks' speed, which is impressive on film. This guy looks great running in pads.
So, what are the percentage chances of Starks getting a shot this year? Probably less than 50/50, but he's still worth a good look, because the upside he would have in Green Bay's offense is immense. Let's not forget Ryan Grant's humble beginnings as a practice squad guy. You gotta be in it to win it.
So there you have it. For some, just remember his name for week six or seven pickups, for those in deep leagues and keeper formats, consider acting quickly. Mr. Starks is a guy who everybody could be talking about in a few weeks. Wouldn't it be cool if everyone was wondering how YOU knew to pick him up in September? If you have the roster space, and if you are in the right kind of league, this might be a time to swing for the fences. If it doesn't work out, what did you lose?
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