The winds of change are blowing at Lambeau.
After losing consecutive games after a 6-0 start, the Green Bay Packers have named James Starks their starting running back, replacing former Alabama standout Eddie Lacy. Whether it’s due to injures or just lack of production, Lacy, who has over 2000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in the past two seasons, will be the teams number two back.
This is not surprise for anyone who’s been watching the Packers; Lacy looks banged up, and Starks has provided a spark whenever he gets into space. It’s known that Lacy has been battling an ankle injury, and Lacy also left last week’s game against Panthers with a groin injury.
According to NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport, Lacy has been playing catchup since training camp. Rapoport stated that Lacy was overweight to start the season, which raised early concern from coaches.
Lacy has stepped down in the depth chart, but really isn’t someone you’d want to drop moving forward. If he gets healthy and is running strong in December, he might be the player that decides your league.
For Starks, it’s an incredible opportunity in the NFC’s most potent offense. Two of Starks’ three best rushing games in his six-year career have come this season, with the outlier coming against Washington in 2013.
Statistically, Starks is having his best season since 2011. That was Starks’ second year in the league, when he and Ryan Grant split carries throughout the season. 2012 was supposed to be Starks breakout season, but a unlucky spell of injuries kept him on the sidelines for the majority of the season. That summer the Packers drafted Lacy, and Starks has mostly played a reserve role since then.
If you’re a Starks holder, the best move would be to strike a deal before the weekend. The expectations for a new back are always inflated, especially one that plays with Aaron Rodgers.
But as great as Rodgers is, he’s the exact reason why I would temper expectations on Starks. There’s a reason Starks has just 11 touchdowns in 59 career games. While he possess a lot of tools that make him a great running back, breakaway speed is not one of them. The longest run of his career was a 65-yard touchdown earlier this season, but Starks wasn’t exactly flying.
With Rodgers at the helm, the Packers will always be better throwing the ball. Even in the red zone, Rodgers’s willingness to run is a bigger threat than a Starks handoff could ever be.
If you’re keeping Starks and starting him, that’s fine too. He’s already had two solid rushing games this season, so it’s no longer a matter of proving himself. It just appears that the Packers line has had struggles, and the stock on Starks will never be higher before Sunday.