Marshawn Lynch: 2014 Fantasy Bust?
When you think about Marshawn Lynch and fantasy football, most people think about Beast Mode, a great fantasy RB to own. Not so fast in 2014. Yes, Marshawn has been high in the ranks of fantasy football in the past, but if you have learned anything partaking in fantasy, year in and year out running backs with mileage have not been able to sustain success. Below I will break down a few reasons why Marshawn should NOT be your top fantasy RB heading into 2014.
1.Mileage- Lynch has been a very productive back for most of his 7 seasons in the NFL. At age 28, most fans may say he still has a few years left in the tank. I would beg to differ, Lynch has averaged over 250 carries per year over his career. None more than his past two seasons in Seattle in 2012 and 2013 where he carried the ball 315 and 301times respectively. The beating his body takes eventually will be catching up to him. Lynch is yet to practice this offseason due to a “minor ankle injury” according to team officials. But could this be a sign of things to come? Maybe. Either way Seattle cannot continue to give Lynch the ball over 300 times a season. By limiting his touches that will help to keep his body healthier but in turn negatively affect his fantasy value.
2. Russell Wilson- The Seahawks have been a ground and pound attack, focusing on wearing teams down with the running game, which usually involved Lynch rushing 20-30 times a game. However, GM John Schneider the past few off-season’s has started to build the Seahawks into a team with a formidable passing attack with Russell Wilson at the helm. The moves Seattle has made (signing and drafting WRs and TEs) points to a more downfield passing attack. This will fall on the shoulders of Russell Wilson, who has proved with his play that he can handle more responsibility and workload. The Seahawks are working more with 4-5 wideout sets instead of their conventional two backfield approach they are accustomed to using. With Russell Wilson becoming more involved in the game plan, I would look to see more passes from Seattle this season which of course means less runs and a decreased value in Marshawn Lynch.
3. Defenses Scheduled- The NFL schedule makers didn’t give Seattle and Marshawn any favors by scheduling the Seahawks the most difficult run defense against. By taking the 2013 defensive statistics the Seahawks play the toughest schedule against the run. Of course, playing in the difficult NFC West doesn’t help. Not only will the defenses be tougher, but teams have started to gameplan against stopping Lynch and the Seattle running game and forcing Wilson to beat them with his arm. This spells bad news for Lynch in terms of fantasy production.
4. Commitment- It has been well documented this offseason that Lynch is not happy with his contract (originally signed a 4 year $31 million deal in 2012). His current deal makes him the 5th highest paid running back in the league, but coming off a Super Bowl championship Lynch must think he is worth more. Lynch was a no show at the beginning of OTA’s (off-season team activities) this year, although he since showed up and not practiced due to his ankle injury. It’s no secret Marshawn is man who beats to his own drum, and his passion for the game of football has been questioned back to his days in Buffalo. I’m not saying Lynch doesn’t give 100% effort on the field, but the question I have is his head always focused on football? Personally, Lynch reminds me a lot of Ricky Williams, great athlete but not always committed to the game. This might not affect his fantasy value greatly but will Pete Carroll and his coaching staff continue to put up with Lynch and his personality? Time will tell.
5. Depth- Seattle GM John Schneider has already proven he is one of the games top executives. He has an eye for talent and is not afraid to add guys to create competition at every position. This is no different at the RB position. The Seahawks have three capable backs that can carry the ball in every game. Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael. Turbin is the guy to keep an eye on. He is entering his 3rd year in the league and can easily start to steal carries away from Lynch. Turbin has been impressive this offseason according to Pete Carroll, getting first team reps with Lynch being sidelined. At age 24, Turbin does not have the wear and tear on his body that Lynch does. I expect to see Turbin to receive a lot more playing time this year, as Seattle will look to give Lynch as much rest as possible for another deep playoff run. This will again take Lynch’s fantasy value down a notch.
I would not take Lynch as my top fantasy RB. Many people will call me crazy, but history and statistics do not lie. I’m not saying Lynch is not draftable, but do not expect him to continue his success of 1,300+ yards and 10+ TDs. Be realistic when drafting “Beast Mode” I would project he will be closer to 900-1,000 yards and between 5-8 TDs barring injury.