Following weeks of noise, retired Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been dealt to the Oakland Raiders for a swap of late-round picks in 2018, provided he passes a physical. He will sign a two-year deal to return to join his hometown team. Beastmode can earn up to $8.5 million in 2017 through incentives.
Lynch’s last appearance in the NFL was forgettable. He finished the 2015 season having played in just seven games, logging his worst statistical season since leaving Buffalo in 2010. From 2011 to 2014, Lynch rushed for at least 1,204 yards and 11 touchdowns each of those four years in Seattle. He averaged two receiving scores per season, as well. Despite Lynch missing the 2016 season, no running back has posted more than his 51 rushing TDs since 2011.
Oakland will be getting a 31-year-old back with 2,144 career attempts under his belt. Assuming he stayed in shape, the veteran should be refreshed after taking basically a season and a half off. That said, Lynch is no stranger to injuries.
Running backs haven’t fared particularly well in Oakland. Latavius Murray (2015) and Darren McFadden (2010) are the last to top the 1,000-yard plateau since Justin Fargas did it in 2007. In 2002, Charlie Garner ran for 950 yards to set the franchise record for a player north of 30 years old.
None of those backs accomplished anything close to what is on Lynch’s resume. The biggest concern simply has to be the combination of his age and injuries. It cannot be talent around him, nor should it be the offensive line. Oakland boasts one of the top lines in the game and a passing attack feared by many a defensive coordinators.
Lynch won’t be asked to rush 300 times. The Raiders may not even ask 250 of him. Murray toted the ball 266 times in 2015, and the entire team combined for 434 attempts (11th most). Its run-pass ratio was 57-43 in favor of the aerial game.
Lynch will find help from second-year backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. He will be fed as much as he and the coaching staff feel is reasonable. Game flow will play a large role in his workload on a week-to-week basis, as some matchups will be best exploited through Derek Carr’s arm.
Fantasy football spin
The risk is obvious, if not amplified because of his time away galavanting the planet. It acts as the proverbial Catch 22: Does he benefit from being refreshed, or will Lynch be rusty and quick to suffer nagging injuries because of it?
View Beastmode as a viable second fantasy back in standard scoring and a fringe RB2 in reception-rewarding leagues. His best value is found in Lynch’s red zone prowess. He could be selected too early in more casual formats because of his name value.