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James Starks fantasy value on rise with Eddie Lacy concussion

James StarksIt didn’t take long for Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy to remind his fantasy owners that they should have handcuffed him with James Starks. Lacy, whose bruiser running style makes him susceptible to injuries, suffered another concussion on Thursday night. The concussion is his second in 18 career NFL games.

Even before Lacy went down, Starks got a handful of touches and looked impressive with them. He carried the ball seven times for 37 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards. For whatever reason, he seemed to be more effective (5.3 yards per carry) than Lacy, who carried the ball 12 times for just 34 yards (2.8 YPC).

While it’s hard to draw any conclusions against a dominant Seattle Seahawks defense, it’s obvious Starks needs to be rostered in most fantasy formats. Lacy is far more talented and has a higher ceiling, but his latest concussion is a major concern. The former Alabama star appeared to suffer the head injury while running through Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.

Lacy, who is not very fast, is most effective when he runs through tackles. The question now becomes if his body can hold up to his running style. It’s quite possible Lacy could be cleared by next weekend and still be leaned on as Green Bay’s workhorse, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Packers coach Mike McCarthy started giving Starks more snaps in an attempt to keep Lacy healthy. And if Lacy misses any time, Starks would get the bulk of the carries in a fantastic offense. Pick him up as quickly as you can.

Johnathan Franklin replaces James Starks, fumbles away game

Johnathan Franklin PackersJohnathan Franklin saw his first action of the season on Sunday, and he looked good until fumbling away the game for the Green Bay Packers in the final four minutes of a 34-30 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Franklin, a fourth-round pick out of UCLA, came in to replace James Starks, who hurt his knee before halftime. Franklin looked shifty and did well to avoid being tackled on first contact. He ripped off a 51-yard run — the Packers’ longest of the season — and he scored a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter. His final stats were impressive; he rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries, and he caught three passes for 23 yards. But the fumble was a killer.

The Packers went for it on 4th and 1 with under four minutes left in the game. They handed it off to Franklin, who tried to dive for the first down. He was stripped of the ball on his dive and the Bengals recovered and returned it for the winning touchdown.

As LBS contributor A. Botros noted, the turnover recalled previous fumbling problems Franklin had in college.

Franklin was a star running back for the Bruins and became the school’s career rushing leader, but he had a huge fumbling problem early in his college career. He lost seven, six, and five fumbles in his first three seasons respectively, but he cut that down to only one fumble in his senior season. He still lost 19 fumbles over four seasons.

The Packers are thin at running back. Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion last weekend, and Starks hurt his knee this week. Franklin exited the game late after hurting his ankle, but returned. We highly recommended Starks as a fantasy pickup last weekend, and we recommend Franklin as a pickup pending Starks’ health. The Packers have some talented backs that have a ton of fantasy value, as long as they are healthy.

Below is a look at the play where Franklin lost the fumble:

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Week 3 fantasy pickups include Eddie Royal, DeAndre Hopkins, James Starks

Eddie-Royal-ChargersUnlike the relatively quiet opening week we began with this NFL season, Week 2 was littered with injuries. Ray Rice is dealing with a hip flexor strain that is not considered serious, but everyone needs to be adding Ravens backup running back Bernard Pierce if he isn’t already owned. He should have been drafted in almost all leagues, so we’re not considering him a waiver wire pickup.

Other injuries included Packers running back Eddie Lacy and Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, who both left their respective games with concussions. Falcons running back Steven Jackson also went down with a thigh injury and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Vernon Davis could also miss time with a hamstring injury. Long story short, the waiver wire is more important than ever. Here are your Week 2 fantasy pickups.

Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers: The bad news for Royal in fantasy terms is that he has hauled in five touchdown passes in the first two games of the season — while he was on waivers in most leagues. He’s only owned in 24% of fantasy leagues, but that number will shoot up this week now that he has obviously developed a rapport with Philip Rivers. Should we expect the WR1 or WR2 numbers to continue? It’s doubtful at best, but with Floyd looking like he’s going to miss time Royal should continue to see plenty of targets. He’s worth adding if you’re in a league that starts three receivers and are struggling to find someone to plug in.

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James Starks a fantasy player to watch with Lacy’s concussion

James StarksJames Starks was hardly on the fantasy football radar prior to Sunday, but he is the top player to keep your eye on entering Week 3.

Starks came in for the Green Bay Packers after rookie running back Eddie Lacy left with a concussion suffered on his first carry of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins. Starks looked brilliant against the Skins defense, posting 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and 36 receiving yards. He showed an excellent burst and no hesitation on the 32-yard touchdown he scored late in the third quarter.

Starks, a sixth-round pick of the Packers in 2010, looked better than he did in 2011, which is when he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and posted 794 combined yards. To give you an idea of how bad Green Bay’s rushing game has been, Starks was the first Packer to have a 100-yard rushing game since Brandon Jackson ran for 115 at Washington on Oct. 10, 2010.

We were high on Eddie Lacy for fantasy purposes entering the season, but the concussion was a really bad break. There is no report on how much time he might miss, but Starks is a player you need to keep your eye on in case Lacy is out. He might be worth picking up just in case Lacy misses next week’s game at Cincinnati. Starks is available in most fantasy football leagues.

James Starks Has Surpassed Ryan Grant as Packers’ Primary Back

The reports throughout Packers training camp said James Starks looked significantly better than Ryan Grant. On Thursday night, that assertion was evident for anyone who watched the game.

The Packers let Ryan Grant carry the ball their first two offensive series and then he was hardly heard from. It was almost as if they were giving him the courtesy start, knowing fully well that he wasn’t going to carry the load. James Starks came in and looked better. The highlight was Starks’ 17-yard touchdown run towards the end of the second quarter when he spun off tacklers and ran physically.

Ryan Grant was once a very effective rusher for the Packers. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2007 and 4.4 in 2009. But since getting hurt in the season-opener last year, he has come back a step slower. Grant was able to break a tackle on one run, but for the most part he looked slow and unable to shake the first tackler. Unbiased eyes would tell you that Starks just looked like the better back. There is little doubt the Packers’ coaches will see the same thing on tape. Matter of fact, they saw the same thing during the game and gave Starks 12 carries to Grant’s nine.

Most people who have Ryan Grant on their fantasy team likely took him to be their second running back. Those owners will be disappointed all season. Grant is at best a flex option, and his fantasy appeal is unlikely to improve. Starks has more appeal, but even he is not a great option because he has to share carries. At least he is a much better flex play than Grant going forward.

James Starks Looking for Revenge Against Chicago Bears After Draft Day Snub

Rookie running back James Starks was drafted out of Buffalo with the 193rd pick by the Green Bay Packers, only after he was shafted at the last second by the Chicago Bears. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears had decided they were going to take Starks with 181st pick and had already begun negotiations with his agent. Bears’ former director of college scouting, Greg Gabriel, says he was on the phone explaining rookie minicamp to Starks when general manager Jerry Angelo informed him they would be picking quarterback Dan LeFevour instead of Starks:

I then had to tell the player (a player that I had developed a good relationship with over the previous two years) that in fact we were not drafting him. Hearing a kid go from being extremely excited to silence was not easy. It was the most embarrassing moment I had experienced while scouting. In my mind everything is about integrity, and I felt our integrity had been damaged.”

Gabriel should be embarrassed, but more for Angelo than himself. Gabriel was doing what he was supposed to be doing, when Angelo essentially forced him into being the bad guy. I understand that the NFL is a business and Angelo was doing what he thought was best for his team and he certainly is allowed to change his mind, but integrity has to mean something. It obviously does to Gabriel, and I’m sure it does to Starks now if it didn’t before.

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James Starks a Difference-Maker for Packers Against Eagles

The first time we wrote about James Starks, we cautioned fantasy owners not to get too excited about adding him. That was after the rookie running back broke out with 73 yards on 18 carries in week 13 against the 49ers. Turned out we were right, as Starks only had eight yards on six carries the following week. The next two weeks he was inactive due to a lack of preparation, but he played in the regular season finale against the Bears. Whatever issues kept Starks inactive towards the end of the season have clearly been overcome.

The undrafted rookie out of Buffalo was a difference-maker for the Packers in their Wild Card playoff game against the Eagles Sunday. On their second drive, he busted out with a 27-yard run that established his presence. The typically pass-heavy offense for Green Bay handed the ball to Starks four times on the drive and passed to him twice. They wound up with a touchdown on the drive and Starks ended up with 123 rushing yards in the game.

The Packers did something they haven’t done since losing Ryan Grant the first week of the season — hand the ball off consistently to a workhorse back. Starks’ emergence gives Green Bay another weapon and dimension the rest of the playoffs, and at least a complementary back to Ryan Grant when he returns next season.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images