Fantasy Implications of Marshawn Lynch’s Potential Return

 

With Oakland reportedly linked to Marshawn Lynch, I thought I’d take a look at how this latest ripple in the RB market would reverberate thoughout the league from a fantasy standpoint.

Teams Involved

Oakland Raiders | Seattle Seahawks | Minnesota Vikings | Green Bay Packers | New York Giants

Players Involved

Marshawn Lynch | Adrian Peterson | Eddie Lacey | Latavius Murray | LaGarrette Blount | Jamaal Charles

What We Know

The Minnesota Vikings have signed Latavius Murray, saying “so long” to arguably the best player in their franchise’s history. I don’t love Murray’s fantasy prospects in Minnesota. He is leaving a team in the Raiders with a superior offensive line and joining one in the Vikings who might as well have had tackling dummies on the line last year. Even in Oakland, Murray was TD and workload dependent and failed to take advantage of his opportunity — he split time with two other players many had not heard of before 2016. In Minnesota, he is not even in the RB 2 discussion for me. I am passing.

With Murray’s departure, Oakland will be interested in finding a replacement at lead back. Now is not the time to mess around — outside of New England, windows for success in the NFL are not open for long. Oakland’s offense moves the ball and puts up a lot of points. This fit has potential to be a fantasy paradise for the right RB.

Adrian Peterson is looking for a new home. I won’t dig into this too much — you can find my thoughts here.

The Seahawks signed Not-so-Fat? Eddie Lacy in an attempt to replace Beastmode with FeastMode. It clearly wasn’t the o-line that drew Lacy to Seattle, my guess — Seattle doesn’t want to let that Skittles budget go to waste. Pete Carroll “wants Lacy big,” so maybe we will see him at Offensive Tackle. I am avoiding Lacy in the crowded (until one, two, or all three backs get hurt) Seattle backfield.

The best RB on the Packers is a WR. They made it work last year, but help at that position is certainly needed. A solid running game can put the Pack over the top in the league, and can boost the fantasy production of the GB’s passing attack as defensives would have to bring more bodies into the box.

Initial Thoughts

We don’t yet know if (1) Marshawn is interested in a comeback or (2) what kind of shape he is in. Nonetheless, this really hurts AD’s leverage. He probably went into the offseason feeling like the Bachelor, but now it’s looking more like he’s just another floozy hoping for a rose.

Jamaal Charles seems to be the guy no one is talking about. With his injury history, he’s in the same boat as AD — a one-time (and perhaps still) premium back who will most likely be settling for less money than he feels he deserves. Overall, with a strong RB class coming in, it’s an unfortunate reality that these generational talents will most likely need to put their pride aside, settle for less moolah and sign with a contender as they are presumably chasing rings.

Prediction

First off, I’m going to work under the assumption the Marshawn will be a Raider. I think a year off will serve as more of a benefit than a hindrance for Mr. Hold My Dick and we see a fantasy-relevant back. He could be in the RB 2 discussion depending on usage and the type of shape he is in. There are way too many balls in the air here to feel strongly about any prediction I could make. So, assuming Lynch does want to come back, is in football shape, and he lands with the Raiders, I see him as a fantasy plug and play bench back. You could do worse than having Marshawn Lynch step in during bye-weeks or fill the flex-spot in week where he has a great matchup.

With Seattle and Oakland no longer needing RBs, the list of realistic options for Adrian Peterson is shrinking. There is no doubt the team he signs with will be a contender. He is not a great fit with the Giant’s shotgun offense, but most teams would have to tweak formations for a future HOF back who likes standing 9 yards deep and can’t block. For the sake of argument, let’s take the Giants out of the Peterson picture. And as great of a revenge story for seeing Favre in purple as it would make, I do not think the Packers are interested in the pricey Peterson when they have some holes to fill on D. Also, they were able to get by without any semblance of a running game last year. Wherever AP ends up, he will likely sign for cheaper than he was expecting. If he can stay healthy, I peg him as a late RB-2 with top-15 upside. I am not reaching for him in the draft though unless I have a guarantee at RB-1 like Bell, Johnson, or Elliot — too much of a risk for me (he did burn me when he decided to switch his son).

I think the Pack will be signing one of these other backs and drafting from a talented RB draft class. If any of these FA backs on the list end up in Lambeau, I’m pegging LaGarrette Blount as the future Cheesehead. Blount seems to only be relevant in NE — but, I think with an equally talented QB at the helm, defenses will focus enough on the passing game to allow Blount the running room to be a latter-end RB2. He will not be as productive as last year wherever he ends up. Even if he stayed in NE, I doubt we would see a repeat of those numbers from the 1st/2nd down and goal line bruiser. If he can come even close to the TD total he put up last year, I wouldn’t hate plugging him in as a RB 2. I am also not drafting him based on prior performance and expecting the same type of return in 2017.

So that leaves us with the Jamaalocaust. To me, he is a great fit for the G-men. Working out of the shotgun, Charles won’t be asked to take too much of a beating. Although his injuries are non-contact in nature, not being mauled by 300 pound men is always a plus. I may be be reaching a bit, but in PPR leagues I think this move makes Jamaal a great option — dare I say an RB1? Eh, I dare not, but at this point, it’s hard to say how Jamaal will look on the field. If he is able to retain some of his quickness, burst, and cutting ability, he could find a lot of holes in the passing game opened up underneath by ODB and Marshall. If he falls in your league’s draft, he is worth a high-risk, high-reward flyer. I just might be targeting this year depending how he looks in pre-season.

Hope you enjoyed. To see more insight on RBs check out My Uselessly Early 2017 RB Ranks where I rank my top-24 based on PPR leagues.

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