Fantasy Football: The Green Bay Packers Running Back Situation

By Brad Berreman


Fantasy football owners know where to look on the Green Bay Packers‘ roster for weekly starters and good options, from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the wide receivers all the way down to kicker Mason Crosby. But the running back rotation in Green Bay has proven both hard to predict and hard to rely on for fantasy owners for the last few years, with multiple backs emerging and injuries playing a role.

James Starks was limited by a turf toe injury during the preseason, prompting the Packers to sign Cedric Benson, and he did not make his regular season debut until Week 6 against the Houston Texans after Benson went down with a foot injury.

Starks had just six carries over his first three games, but started the Packers’ Week 9 games against the Arizona Cardinals and had 17 carries for 61 yards. Backfield mate Alex Green also had a significant role in the game, with 11 carries for 53 yards and two catches for 25 yards, creating a potential  running back by committee headache for fantasy owners.

Benson was placed on the league’s new injured reserve list that allows a player to return, but he will at least be out for three more games if is physically able to return at all this season. His return would further cloud the Packers’ running back rotation, but until there is definitive word he will return this season fantasy owners should not worry about him too much.

The Packers look likely to continue using a rotation between Starks and Green, with Green likely taking much of the obvious passing down duties, but there is plenty of positive buzz surrounding Starks as his turf toe issue looks to finally be in the rearview mirror.

Green Bay’s Remaining Schedule-With Fantasy Points Per Game Allowed To Running Backs (ESPN scoring)

Week 11- @ Detroit Lions– (12.9 per game-7th-fewest)
Week 12- @ New York Giants  
(12.6 per game-6th fewest)
Week 13- vs. Minnesota Vikings– 
(14.0 per game12th fewest)
Week 14-vs. Detroit Lions
Week 15- @ Chicago Bears
(10.3 per game-third-fewest )    
Week 16- vs. Tennessee Titans– 
(21.0 per game-fifth-most)
Week 17- vs. Minnesota Vikings

Overall Analysis

-Week 16 against Tennessee looks very favorable, since the Titans have allowed the third-most rushing yards to running backs (118.3 per game) as well as the fourth-most receptions (59) and the most receiving yards (541) to the position. That will also be a crucial week for fantasy owners.

-The Vikings struggled stopping the run for a stretch around mid-season, but overall they have been fairly solid in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs.

– Detroit has only allowed four total touchdowns (three rushing) to running backs this season, but they have allowed 4.8 yards per carry in the five games this season where opposing backs had 20 or more rushing attempts.

– The Bears have clearly been very good against the run this season, but they have allowed 352 rushing yards to opposing running backs over their last three games.

-Both Green and Starks are worthy of a roster spot in 12 and 14-team leagues, with Green worth holding in slightly higher regard in PPR formats due to his likely role as a pass catcher. But if I had to choose one it would be Starks, since he is now apparently completely healthy coming out of Green Bay’s bye week and he should get the nod near the goal-line.


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