Marshawn Lynch Fantasy Value: The Return Of Beast Mode

The Oakland Raiders acquired RB Marshawn Lynch and a 2018 sixth-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2018 fifth-round pick.

The Raiders and Lynch have agreed to terms on a contract for the 2017 season. After weeks of negotiation, Oakland agreed to pay Lynch a $3 million base, with a chance to make $2 million more if he gains 1,000 yards. The max value of the contract is $8.5 million.

There seem to be two trains of thought in regards to Marshawn Lynch’s return to football and his expectations for the 2017 Fantasy Football season. There are some that believe that the time away from the game will heal old wounds and allow Lynch to fully recover from the grueling toll that a running back can endure as a ball carrier in the NFL. There are also some who believe that the Raiders have one of the better offensive lines in the league and that adding Lynch to a team with a young promising quarterback in Derek Carr, would create a nice balanced offense.

The glass half empty train of the thought is that older running backs don’t last long in the NFL and Lynch won’t be able to handle the week to week grind of the game. The time away could also have made Beast Mode soft that would undoubtedly make him more vulnerable to injury.

Lynch still needs to pass a physical before the trade and signing can become official. However, the Raiders wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble if they weren’t sure Lynch wasn’t ready for a return. Lynch met with the Raiders on April 5th and expressed his desire to play for them. The Raiders were then apparently impressed with Lynch’s conditioning at his visit which has to lead to the recent acquisition.

Best Rushing Seasons by a 30+ Year-Old
Rank Player Age Team Year Att Yards TDs
1 Tiki Barber 30 NYG 2005 357 1,860 9
2 Curtis Martin 31 NYJ 2004 371 1,697 12
3 Tiki Barber 31 NYG 2006 327 1,662 5
4 Barry Sanders 30 DET 1998 343 1,491 4
5 Priest Holmes 30 KC 2003 320 1,420 27
6 Warrick Dunn 30 ATL 2005 280 1,416 3
7 Thomas Jones 31 NYJ 2009 331 1,402 14
8 Emmitt Smith 30 DAL 1999 329 1,397 11
9 Thomas Jones 30 NYJ 2008 290 1,312 13
10 Curtis Martin 30 NYJ 2003 323 1,308 2
11 Ricky Watters 31 SEA 2000 278 1,242 7
12 Ricky Watters 30 SEA 1999 325 1,210 5
13 Garrison Hearst 30 SF 2001 252 1,206 4
14 Emmitt Smith 31 DAL 2000 294 1,203 9
15 Fred Taylor 31 JAC 2007 223 1,202 5
16 Fred Taylor 30 JAC 2006 231 1,146 5
17 Warrick Dunn 31 ATL 2006 286 1,140 4
18 Ricky Williams 32 MIA 2009 241 1,121 11
19 Herschel Walker 30 PHI 1992 267 1,070 8
20 Thurman Thomas 30 BUF 1996 281 1,033 8
21 Christian Okoye 30 KC 1991 225 1,031 9
22 Eddie George 30 TEN 2003 312 1,031 5
23 Emmitt Smith 32 DAL 2001 261 1,021 3
24 James Stewart 30 DET 2002 231 1,021 4
25 Mike Anderson 32 DEN 2005 239 1,014 12
26 James Brooks 31 CIN 1990 195 1,004 5

Chart & Data Source: SportingCharts.com

Fantasy Breakdown

The debate on where Marshawn Lynch should be drafted now begins. This morning when news broke that the Raiders and Seahawks had come to terms on a trade, the Fantasy Football Communality lit up in a discussion about what he’s really worth, and where to draft him. It’ll take time before enough drafts can create an ADP to place him accordingly, but personally, I don’t think I would reach beyond a late 3rd round pick on him. Lynch does have a 1,000 yard added incentive bonus in his contract which was a brilliant move created for motivation, yet I’m more worried about the workload distribution and whether Lynch can stay healthy for 16 games.

Let’s throw around some numbers just for fun.

NAME ATT YDS AVG TD YDS/G 1DN
Latavius Murray 195 788 4 12 56.3 52
Jalen Richard 83 491 5.9 1 30.7 14
DeAndre Washington 87 467 5.4 2 33.4 19
Derek Carr 39 70 1.8 0 4.7 5
Jamize Olawale 17 47 2.8 2 2.9 5
Johnny Holton 6 43 7.2 0 2.9 2
Marquette King 2 27 13.5 0 1.7 1
Amari Cooper 1 0 0 0 0 0
Matt McGloin 3 -3 -1 0 -1 0
Taiwan Jones 1 -8 -8 0 -0.6 0
Totals 434 1922 4.4 17 120.1 98
[the_ad id=”63198″]Let’s say that for now, the Raiders do nothing more than hand Lynch the carries that Latavius Murray accounted for last year. Murray had 195 carries (12.1 carries per game) and averaged 4 yards per touch. If Lynch can improve on Murray’s yards per carry average, which is not out of the question considering both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington were averaging over 5 yards per touch, then Lynch’s goal of 1,000 yards is very much possible (200 carries x 5-yards per carry = 1000 yards).

However, accounting for opportunity is one thing, but assuming the 12 touchdowns that Murray had last year is also transferable is where Fantasy owners will over think things. The Raiders had 17 rushing touchdowns as a team in 2016, but just 7 rushing TD’s as a team in 2015 and 4 in 2014. I wouldn’t expect double digit scores for Lynch, as that would over-project Lynch’s value and cause you to reach in a draft. I think the best advice, for now, is to be optimistic, but yet stay grounded with his fantasy ceiling. Injury to an older RB is high, and something all fantasy owners need to be prepared for if they draft him.

On a side note, I find it to be very surprising that Lynch and Adrian Peterson, who signed with the Saints yesterday, both land on teams right before the NFL draft. This is either a knock at the rookie RB draft class or a sign that both the Saints and Raiders don’t want to waste any picks on the running back position.

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