Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant should be a good fantasy flex play on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions.
Grant, who at the beginning of the 2010 season was the Packers’ lead back before an ankle injury in Week 1 sidelined him for the season, has gone from splitting carries with James Starks to seeing the second-year player get the majority of the carries. Starks, however, sprained his knee and ankle in Week 11, and is not expected to play today vs. Detroit.
The Packers possess one of the best offenses in the NFL (ranked 3rd overall), but are certainly pass first as evidenced by their 21st-ranked rushing offense.
But the matchup is favorable toward Grant due to the Lions having the fifth-best defense against the pass and just the 27th-best against the run (134.7 YPG). Green Bay can put up points against anyone — see its No. 1 ranking at 35.5 points per game — and while Detroit may be ranked ninth overall in defense, it gives up 21.9 points per game (19th) — 37 and 35 points apiece the last two weeks.
When healthy in 2008 and 2009, Grant had 1,200-plus yards rushing in this offense. In 2011, in limited use, Grant has 267 yards rushing and 69 yards receiving. His best game of the season so far was a 17-carry, 92-yard performance against the Bears in Week 3; he hasn’t topped nine carries sin a game since. Grant has 366 yards from scrimmage this season on 81 touches — 73-for-267 rushing 8-for-69 receiving — to post a 4.5 yards per touch average.
The Lions have been decent against the run the last three games — no rusher above 73 yards — but were terrible the three games prior with RBs collecting 116, 141 and 122 yards. Detroit allows 5.0 yards per carry to backs.
Due to the Grant-Starks duo, no back has been ultra productive, but Starks had at least 11 carries the last eight games. So the Packers are obviously willing to let the lead back get the carries, and both Grant and Starks help out in the passing game, too.
If Starks is out, and even if he’s in he will likely be limited on a short week, then Grant is worth a start. We all drafted both of these backs and we’ve rarely, if ever, been able to use one of them with confidence this season.
Thanksgiving is your chance to finally use one with confidence. Go grab Grant — available in 59 percent of Yahoo leagues — and start him in Week 12.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter