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Most fantasy owners have been burned by a sleeper pick or two at some point.  That is why a lot of people reading this article are starting to feel a lot of anxiety and maybe even a sharp pain in their temple.  James Starks was a popular sleeper pick in 2011 fantasy football leagues after an epic performance in the 2010 Green Bay Packers playoff run.  Fantasy owners may have passed up guys like Fred Jackson, Willis McGahee, and Beanie Wells to draft Starks.  Obviously that did not work out so well since Starks rushed for only 578 yards and 1 touchdown.

There is a term out there for guys like James Starks, however: post-hype sleeper.  The main risk with Starks last season was that he was competing with veteran running back Ryan Grant for playing time.  Grant is not an exciting player, but the coaches put their trust in him over the younger Starks.  Ryan Grant is now a free agent and the Packers do not look to be bringing him back. This leaves the door wide open for James Starks.  Word out of Green Bay is that the starting job is Starks’ to lose and fantasy owners will have to decide if they trust him not to lose it.

Starks is an explosive runner that can catch the ball out of the backfield and score from the goal-line.  The Green Bay offense is going to get a lot of scoring opportunities and should open up big running lanes as defenses will be focused on stopping the pass.  He does have a tendency to look lost at times, but hopefully he matures and learns to keep his focus.

The only competition Starks has at this point in the year is Brandon Saine and Alex Green.  Saine is average at best and Alex Green is coming off a torn ACL.  He could also be hampered by injuries, as Starks has not played a full season since his junior year at Buffalo in 2008.  Injuries are a risk fantasy football owners just have to live with, however, and Starks’ upside makes him well worth the risk.

With so many teams going to two, and even three, running back rotations, guys who will get the majority of snaps are at a premium.  With a strong off-season and pre-season, James Starks will be in line to carry the load for the Packers out of the backfield and could very well finish the 2012 fantasy football season as a top tier running back.

Follow Brent on Twitter @TheFantasyDick for daily fantasy sports updates.  You can read more from him at The Fantasy Dick.

  1. David_KOA says:
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    @Brent,
    It is all about finding value in this game we call fantasy football. In today’s fake football, especially at the RB spot it’s not that easy. That is why I am all for welcoming James Starks to my fantasy teams in 2012. His cost at the moment is only a RB3.

    With the attention the defense got during the draft, maybe the packers will feel it bit more confident in running the rock. They led the league in passing(65%) of the time when having the lead in the 4th quarter. James showed that he got stronger as the game went along. A stat line of 4.6 yards on 40 carries. Even with a combo of Green, Saine or both in the mix. I could see Starks getting at least 15+ touches a game. Now I don’t expect him to see goal-line work anytime soon. Not with his past of injurys, John Kuhn and we can not forget about Mr. Rodgers getting his 3 to 4. A Healthy Starks could have a line of 1200+ total yards, 40+ catches & 6 TDs!

    Like you said above the Job seems to be his for the taking. Lets hope he runs with and can help us fantasy owners turn a nice profit.

    • David_KOA says:
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      @David_KOA,
      Correcting one of my stats. James Starks had 50(not 40) carries in the 4th quarter.

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