Fantasy football roundtable: Ryan Grant vs. James Starks

by KFFL Staff on July 14, 2011 @ 01:02:09 PDT


KFFL editors were asked to choose between Green Bay Packers running backs Ryan Grant and James Starks for the upcoming fantasy season. The question was rather vague, so expect quite the variance in answers. Essentially, which back do they think will have the better fantasy season - "better" being the operative word.

What, specifically, constitutes better? Several scenarios could play out, and just because one back may have a better year by a raw statistical measure, it doesn't mean that back was more valuable or provided more for a fantasy owner's buck.

Many variables come into play, several of which are not able to be forecasted. Is the back that comes on later in the season to help you over the hump in the playoff push the better option, or what if one of the backs is hot early in the year and helps you jump out to an early lead on your way to a playoff berth? Will unpredictable injuries factor in?

Grant may start the season as the primary back but could cede way to Starks as the year passes. Grant should be on the field on third-down or in clear passing situations, thus giving him more opportunities, in theory, to produce fantasy points. Starks could be used more in goal line situations, which would help his chances of finding the end zone. Your league's scoring system matters slightly more than usual in this case.

Can Grant overcome his serious ankle injury from the 2010 season? Will the younger Starks be fresher later in the season with a comparable season-long workload? Can the second-year back hold up to an increased beating? Will Grant outright hold off Starks all year? Was Starks simply a flash in the pan last year?

Does your definition of better cross over to value on draft day? Is it really worth it if you have to pay more for the same stats?

Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers

Cory J. Bonini

Neither? I don't want to deal with the headache. Grant's injury concerns and Starks' potential to have been a three-game wonder cool my interest.

Historically, Grant has been at his best in his first 10 carries of a game. Expect Green Bay to use the younger, larger back as a closer. Grant will be the third-down guy in my eyes; he isn't a liability in the protection of Aaron Rodgers and is the better receiver.

Starks' ADP is the 10th round - a fair placement for his potential. Grant goes in the fifth round, on average. Passing on Grant in favor of Starks is probably the smartest path, but only if you can land him as close to the 10th-round placement as possible. Reaching for Starks removes the risk-averse incentive to draft him.

Keith Hernandez

If Grant doesn't go down with a season-ending injury in the first game of last season, there is a good chance we aren't even having this debate. Now that Starks is in the mix, it's inevitable that Grant will lose touches and therefore some fantasy value as a No. 1 back.

Minus his eight totes in '10, Grant put up 1,200-plus yards on the ground the previous two campaigns and has hauled in 73 career passes out of the backfield. I'm not targeting either runner in drafts, but I like Grant based on his experience and better ability as a pass-catcher - Starks is a must as a handcuff if you take the gamble on Grant. 

Nicholas Minnix

The Packers haven't run often. Their newfound wealth in personnel probably won't change that. In this potentially frustrating situation, Starks presents more profit potential. Grant will be tough to pass up, though. Starks hasn't had much time to learn the advanced concepts of this offense. Last season, they asked him to do relatively little because he turned out to be their most effective runner. The lack of OTAs will hurt.

As a No. 2 or No. 3, Grant can be a nice fantasy contributor. He doesn't need to come out near the goal line, and he's more than capable as a receiver and a pass blocker. At 100 percent, Grant is an impressive runner who won't cede what little edge he begins camp with.

Tim Heaney

Even if Grant rebounds from his season-ending ankle injury, this looks like a time share, eventually, if not when games start.

The 2010 hang-ups with Starks were his pass protection and GB's reluctance to give him advanced plays, but he blossomed in the postseason and is a younger, fresher back to lean on. Grant isn't necessarily overtly talented; his biggest draw in previous years was his lack of competition - not the case anymore. 

I'll take my chances on the cheaper Starks' profit potential as, say, a No. 4 back before Grant's as a No. 2 or 3. Running back workloads and expectations are dwindling across fantasy football, but that doesn't mean you should overpay for a nominal starter.

Consensus choice: Draw

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