Marshawn Lynch. Raider.
It hasn’t happened yet -- as of this writing, Lynch is still retired. But it’s a lot of fun to think about this comeback Beast Mode is reportedly considering.
That doesn’t make him a no-brainer for Fantasy Football, though.
Lynch, who will turn 31 years old when training camp starts, didn’t play at all last season. In the days after Eddie Lacy’s signing with the Seahawks, however, a flurry of reports suggested Lynch was considering a return to football after a year off -- but in Oakland, not in Seattle.
What would it mean if Lynch wound up with the Raiders in 2017?
When we last saw him in 2015, Lynch wasn’t a beast. Then-29 years old, Lynch’s body began to fall apart as he missed nine games and averaged 3.8 yards per run. Seattle’s offensive line issues were beginning to manifest, so perhaps that was part of the problem. Even with a number of 15-carry games, he just wasn’t the same stud.
With 2,337 career carries over nine seasons (including playoffs), Lynch would have to prove he’s spry. Maybe a year off from football cures that ill for a little bit, but there’s no doubt Lynch has a lot of wear-and-tear on that 31-year-old body.
Lynch also would have to fend off DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard for touches. Sure, we can concede Lynch would take over the lead rushing role for the Raiders, but Oakland wasn’t shy about using the young duo last year. This is a team that wisely won’t run its backs into the ground. Latavius Murray’s sub-200-carry season is proof -- they could have run him into the ground in 2016 and then let him walk. Instead, they monitored him. You can’t help but think they’d do the exact same thing with Lynch’s workload.
But Murray also cashed in for 12 touchdowns, 11 from inside the 10. Maybe Lynch’s days of handling all the reps for a team are over, but even he could grind from inside the 10, particularly behind this offensive line. That’s a skill Washington and Richard just don’t have at the same level as Lynch.
And that’s probably the defining part of Lynch’s potential value -- a touchdown dependent player with a big-time name and in an offense that has a very good offensive line and passing attack.
Does that make him worth, say, a fifth-round pick? Not necessarily, but don’t tell that to the people on Twitter.
If Beast Mode goes to Oakland, what round would you draft him in?— Dave Richard (@daverichard) March 17, 2017
Fifty-three percent of our social media fam would take Lynch in Round 5 or before, a small but clear majority.
Personally, Lynch is much more appealing after those first five rounds, or whenever all the impact players at every position are gone. When we reach the point in the draft where Frank Gore and Jeremy Hill get attention, so too should Lynch. That should be at least Round 6, where splurging on a touchdown-needy running back isn’t a potential roster squasher.
Washington and Richard would also be interesting as late-round stashes in case Lynch can’t stay healthy. Richard had the better 2016 but is more likely to work on passing downs and special teams. Washington would conceivably get more work if Lynch were to miss playing time.
Lynch back in the NFL would be interesting for sure. Reports out of training camp would be vital for further evaluating him (because you know he won’t play in the preseason). He would be in a great spot with a very good offense, but concerns about his health and total yardage hold him back from re-emerging as a No. 1 rusher.
Besides, for now, it’s all just a fantasy.