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Marshawn Lynch Fantasy Football Stock Profile: Raiders ideal fit for Bay Area’s Beast Mode

Marshawn Lynch

Position: Running Back

Former Team: Seattle Seahawks/Couch

New Team: Oakland Raiders

Movement Summary

Former All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch stepped away from the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL after the 2015 season and “retired,” leaving fantasy football fans without the premiere NFL bruising back. The Seahawks had turned into a run first offense feeding Beast Mode early and often as he punished defenses and wreaked havoc at the goal line.

Now, Lynch returns to the NFL his hometown team the Oakland Raiders traded for his rights from the Seahawks. Lynch should slide right into the starting RB spot after the departure of Latavius Murray to the Minnesota Vikings. Lynch will immediately put himself back on the fantasy map and has the potential to once again be a force from the coveted RB position.

Talent: 7.5 / 10

We all know how good Beast Mode was in his prime, but we’re all eager to see how Lynch will perform after not playing for a year. It was reported that Lynch was in fantastic shape during his tests in Oakland — which is an encouraging sign — but will that properly translate to NFL game shape? Signs point to yes, but there’s reason to be skeptical as Lynch is now 31 years old which sends up red flags for NFL RBs.

Regardless of age, Lynch should still be a fantastic weapon on the goal line for Oakland. His raw power and large frame will make him nearly impossible to stop on the goal line (except vs. Donta’ Hightower). His downhill running style stands out among all other NFL backs as he’s arguably the last person you’d like to see running full speed at you. Lynch also has good vision when finding which hole he will violently throw himself through into the second level, only to see defensive backs collectively shit themselves at his sight. It will be interesting to see if he still has the same speed/burst he had in Seattle before literally and metaphorically hanging up his cleats.

Opportunity + Usage: 8 / 10

Lynch’s set up in Oakland appears to be a plus scenario for his fantasy potential. After Latavius Murray signed with the Vikings, Lynch should be handling the early down carries for the offense. He should also see practically every goal line carry with little fear of being vultured by teammates. Oakland will look to run the ball behind their impressive offensive line and establish the tempo of the game.

Where Lynch loses points in his stock profile score is for a potential committee he could see in the backfield. He is 31 after all and Oakland could look to try and keep him fresh for a deep run in the playoffs. Luckily, the other RBs on the Raiders roster aren’t a huge threat to take a ton of carries away. Between Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, along with 7th round rookie selection Elijah Hood, Lynch has by far more talent than the other backs, but they do provide the chance to keep him rested and avoid potential injury.

Coaching Scheme: 8.5 / 10

Head coach Jack Del Rio made waves in the NFL last year for his beach ball sized balls after going for two multiple times in the season to win games (and succeeding). What we also know about Del Rio, is that he loves to pound the rock on offense and just landed a guy nicknamed “Beast Mode.” Del Rio’s offenses have ranked in the top half in rushing attempts in all but two seasons, including seven top-10 finishes. Last year Murray finished with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns, while being relatively underused in the offense. Del Rio even came out and took a shot at his now-former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for not getting Murray the ball enough in games.

Now Musgrave has been replaced with Todd Downing, who is fully on board with having a balanced passing and rushing attack. Downing has considered current Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to be a metaphorical role model. That’s great news to hear especially since Linehan and the Cowboys took the NFL by steamrolling teams with the behemoth Dallas offensive line and talented rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.

If you look historically at Del Rio’s offenses, he’s hasn’t been reluctant to find himself a horse and ride him. Maurice Jones-Drew became a fantasy beast under Del Rio in Jacksonville with such a high usage rate. Granted it was in Jacksonville where the surrounding talent wasn’t up to par, but there is history of Del Rio relying on his studs.

Surrounding Talent: 10 / 10

 At first I was reluctant to hand out a perfect score here, but when you really break it down and look at the remaining Oakland Raiders offense, it truly deserves a perfect score. Start with the QB Derek Carr: Carr made a huge leap last year in both his development and production on the field. He has become an all-pro caliber QB who is capable of moving his team down the field and consistently keeping the offense humming. What some might point out as a flaw of Carr’s can actually help Lynch though. Carr has been known to shy away from the big play on offense in order to avoid turnovers to kill drives. While that might be a knock against Carr, it’s great for Lynch as it gives him more time on the field and more chances to rack up fantasy points. Resounding pass from the QB position.

At receiver, Lynch will be surrounded by Amari CooperMichael Crabtree and TD vulture/DFS sporadic gold mine Seth Roberts. There’s plenty of talent at the receiver position to move the chains in tough spots and keep the offense on the field. While they will likely be racking up yardage, none of the Raiders receivers put up eye popping touchdown numbers, as Crabtree led with eight. This receiver group is good enough so that opposing defenses can’t stack the box against Lynch which will work in his favor.

As mentioned above in the opportunity/usage section, the other Raiders RBs aren’t big threats to Lynch’s touches. This is a great plus knowing he’s not stuck in a committee with other great backs. A committee is much more tolerable if he’s clear and above the others in the backfield. Del Rio should know that his best option is with Lynch, meaning it’s hard to imagine the other backs taking significant carries away.

The biggest factor into this perfect score is the lesser known and underappreciated Raiders offensive line. Last year, ProFootballFocus ranked the Raiders offensive line 4th overall in the 2016 NFL season. They could have been ranked even higher, but suffered injuries at the right tackle spot. Four different players were used in the RT spot which led to numerous sacks and penalties moving them down the ranks. With full health and a clean slate, the Raiders should jump back up to the top ranks of offensive lines and challenge the Cowboys for the number one overall spot. That should make Lynch’s mouth water more than a bowl full of Skittles.

Risk: 6 / 10

As nice as Lynch’s surroundings are in Oakland, there’s still significant risk surrounding him coming back from retirement. Can he be in the proper shape? Can he avoid injury? Will he be stuck in a committee? Is he too old? There are countless question marks surrounding him that do make him a risky selection come draft day.

The biggest question mark is undoubtedly his physical condition. This combines the age and shape narratives where Lynch is now 31 years old which is higher than the proverbial RB death age of 30. Pair that with the fact that he was sitting on a couch watching NFL games last season, and you’ll find yourself a handful of nervous owners who might be afraid to pull the trigger on Lynch. A lot will depend on how he opens up the season. If he comes out looking slow, it could be a very rough start. But if he’s out there crushing skulls in Week 1 while bulldozing inferior defensive players then Raiders fans and fantasy owners will be doing cartwheels or whatever those wacky Raiders fans do to celebrate (I don’t really want to know).

There’s also the risk that Lynch gets stuck in a RB committee to ease him back into the game and keep him healthy for an Oakland playoff run. Fantasy owners unanimously HATE running back committees, but it’s rare to not see one these days.

Overall Stock Score: 40 / 50 = 80, B-

Ceiling Projection / Scenario: As a ceiling, Lynch becomes the featured workhorse back in Del Rio’s offense while mopping up goal line duties with ease. He very quickly cements his RB1 role back into play and becomes a virtual steal for whoever took the chance on him around the 4th round. Lynch wins NFL comeback player of the year while challenging for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns.

285 carries – 1,350 yards – 14 TDs; 30 catches – 200 yards

Floor Projection / Scenario (excluding injury):  Del Rio decides to play it super conservative with Lynch and sticks him in a three-back committee with Richard and Washington. The main focus on Lynch is to give him goal line work and wait to unleash him in the playoffs to be Oakland’s secret weapon against the Patriots. Lynch looks old and slow, while not having the same bruising running abilities he had in Seattle and is unable to separate himself from his fellow teammate running backs.

150 carries – 600 yards – 8 TDs; 10 catches – 55 yards

Bottom Line: Lynch appears to be the opposite of Adrian Peterson, as he possesses a massive ceiling with a much higher floor. It’s a near perfect destination for Lynch to land in, as it will only be a matter of his health and abilities holding up for him to have a potentially monster season. You don’t bring a guy out of retirement to come back and play for his up and coming hometown team to have him sit on the sidelines and be a spectator/prop for fans. Beast Mode should be back, and that’s something everyone needs.

2017 Predicted Stat Line:  260 carries — 1,200 yards — 11 TDs; 25 catches — 160 yards

We used this formula to nail David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016. Check back for more Fantasy Stock Profiles throughout the off-season to stay ahead of your fantasy football league.

One Comment

  1. Deon

    May 20, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I was looking evrwheyere and this popped up like nothing!

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