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What about Lynch?


So what does a fantasy coach do with Marshawn Lynch?

Troll the message boards on most legitimate fantasy sites and you’ll undoubtedly come across a Marshawn Lynch thread.  Different sites, same discussion.

Certainly, most every football fan has seen the incredible Lynch run that ended the New Orleans Saints’ season, where he broke 6-8 tackles (depending on how you define a tackle), executed the stiff-arm heard and felt around the world and ultimately caused a Northwest earthquake.  But that run is now very last week and coaches are asking the question “what about Lynch?”

To me, Lynch will always be known as the 1.02 pick in 2007.  I had made an earlier trade that landed me the 1.02 and was going to wind up with either Adrian Peterson or Marshawn Lynch.  I had watched AP since he entered college but was also enamored with the up and coming Lynch as he plowed through and over his opponents from his spot in the Cal Bears backfield.  I had a lot of excitement for both backs  and it was one of those years where I was thankful to have the 1.02 so that I didn’ t have to make the choice.  There really was no choice to make as I could not have passed on Peterson, but I felt more emotionally attached to Lynch.

It seems that much of the discussion surrounding Lynch revolves around his past:  past production, past knuckle-head factor and past-tense potential.  The argument starts at whether or not he can overcome his past to be anything more in the future.  Make no mistake here, and I have watched a lot of him, he has the potential and the skills to be a legitimate RB2 in fantasy.  Until he gets consistent carries and/or becomes a centerpiece in the Seahawk run-game, he will remain a high-end RB3.

There were two locations I did not want to see Lynch drafted into:  1)  Detroit and 2) Buffalo.  Despite being drafted into a situation that, like Detroit, I call “where running backs go to die”, Lynch managed 2,150 yards and 15 TDs in two years behind an eroding offensive line, an under-developed QB situation and poor coaching.  Well known is Lynch’s “Beast Mode”  style that punishes would-be tacklers while grinding out tough yards.  This same bruising style is what has given me the greatest pause over the past four years, in that backs of this nature have a hard time staying healthy.

Lynch has great hands out of the backfield for an every-down capable back, is an adequate and willing blocker and has legitimate 4.45 long speed.  Add in prototypical size at 24 years of age and you have the mold for a very productive running back.  His 67 yard jaunt in the playoffs vs. New Orleans has resurrected the chatter of what could be?

Seattle’s offensive line remains an area of concern and should be addressed early during the 2011 draft.  Add in the fact that Lynch’s backfield running mate (at California as well), Justin Forsett , largely relegates him to a two-down back in most situations and there is most certainly ammunition for his detractors.  In four years in Buffalo, Lynch did manage a respectable 4+ ypc. average in a stint that also saw multiple knuckle-head events and suspensions.  So beyond team dynamic and ability remains the looming specters of immaturity and poor decision making.

So where to from here?

I will not deny Lynch’s abilities or capabilities with the ball in his hands.  He has the rare combination of size, speed, agility and hands that would allow for an every-down role.  With tremendous lower leg strength, Lynch is truly a beast. A player’s maturity level doesn’t really concern me until events continue to occur beyond his 25th birthday.  Lynch will be 25 in April and has had no issues in 2010; a lost job and a trade, combined with maturity that comes with age are powerful factors.

Situationally speaking, things could be better.  I prefer my backs to see a fair share of 3rd down work and Forsett continues to receive the Lion’s share.  The Hawk’s aforementioned front line is missing interior toughness in my opinion but LT Okung should be healthy entering the 2011 season and I expect the right side of the line to be addressed via the 2011 draft or free agency.  But line health and chemistry play large factors in a back’s ultimate success and Seattle’s line is not without experience.

Lynch had 12 games with his new team and I never use a back’s first partial year with his new team as an indicator for the next full year.  There are too many system and chemistry details present for a partial season to dictate longer term production potential.  In those 12 games, Lynch did amass 573 yards on 165 carries, good for a lack-luster 3.5 ypc. average.  To his credit, he did visit end-zone on six occasions.

The question of 2011 value is one that you have likely already answered, even before reading my article here.  You either believe Lynch is a buy-low candidate or believe he is destined for fantasy irrelevance.  With his most recent playoff performance, there now enters the possibility of a sell-high strategy if you are holding Lynch and believe he is a 2011 bust waiting to happen.  Regardless of your belief, there exists an opportunity right now that you should act on.  If you in the buy-low camp, your window of opportunity is following the Chicago game this weekend as Lynch is unlikely to repeat last week’s performance.  If you are of the mind-set to sell high, take action soon as the his 67 yard TD is fresh in the mind’s of Lynch fans.

For myself, I’m biased.  As mentioned previously, Lynch is not #23 for me but, instead, 2007 1.02.  As such, I have a place for Lynch on my team as he resurrects his career in Seattle and becomes the RB2 that I expect in 2011.  I expect no less than 1,100 yards and 9 TDs in 2011.  With a regained starting gig, playoff experience and, hopefully, a new-found level of maturity,  I believe Lynch’s best years are ahead of him.

If another coach is selling – I’m buying.

Jeff Haverlack
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Hot nikkels
11 years ago

Amen. Ive always liked Lynch as a runner. I traded Ryan Grant last year and what ended up being the 1.4 in last years rookie/FA draft. To me he is also a hold unless I get an offer I feel I can’t decline.

Mike Cross
11 years ago

Aweseome read, almost traded him today lol!

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Mike Cross
11 years ago

It’s just hard to tell what he could be next year as Seattle has yet to get him consistent touches on a regular basis. In that offense, I don’t see a 1,200+ yard year but he should be good for about 270 touches and I do believe that should be the expectation for 2011.

High risk, medium reward play. He’s young, talented and has a lot of promise. But will Seattle get him the ball?

Hot nikkels
11 years ago

He only has 1 more year left on his deal so he could end up playing elsewhere after 2011 if it doesn’t work out in Seattle.

Dan
11 years ago

Jeff, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve watched Lynch since he was in college and he’s one of those rare talents that have size, speed and hands. If he could put it all together, man he could do some damage!

Chad
11 years ago

You guys can have him. Bet he will get arrested this offseason or will be in some kind of trouble. Marginal talent at best…..

DLF JeffH
Reply to  Chad
11 years ago

I very much disagree with you Chad on your assessment. He is most certainly not a marginal talent. Marginal decision maker at best, yes … but he is extremely talented. That said, he doesn’t have the quickest first step that allows him to create on his own, so he needs a capable O-line to be good … similar to Peterson. But he has amazing leg strength, body lean, hands out of the backfield, vision, good pad level and stability through the hips for great balance. But to your point, he needs to exhibit better decision making now that he’s closing in on 25 years of age.

Cyrus
11 years ago

I was torn about this too… in my league, he averaged around 11.5 points per game from Week 9 on, good for #31 in the league.

If you look at his stats for those weeks, he was on pace for 200 carries and 770 yards if it was a full season. He was being used more in the receiving game in the second half of the year as well– he would have been on pace for 32 receptions and 230 yards.

For his future value, I think he will get the same number of TD’s (including the 3 TD game, he was on pace for 9). Therefore, the only way to increase his value would be more receptions or more combined yardage. Using the projections, he was on pace for 1000 combined yards– increasing his carries from 200 to 300 (keeping the same average) ups this to 1360.

Even including the additional 100 carries, this estimate has him averaging just under 14 points per game. Looking at what RB’s did this past year, that would be good for #20 in the league.

Of course he could improve on this, but I think that that estimate is optimistic–it includes a 3 TD game and a 7 reception game increasing the averages, and I am projecting an additional 100 carries over what he was projected.

As a result of this, I traded him and Gresham to move up from 2.03 to 1.04. I’m hoping to land either a top RB or WR at that position who will have more upside than Lynch. Some think it was a lot to pay, but I drafted Gresham in the 4th round last year and felt like making a move.

DLF JeffH
Reply to  Cyrus
11 years ago

Yep, I went a bit below your expectations for carries and went with 270 at a 4 ypca. to get my figures. The Hawks just hired Bevell as their OC which is a big plus for Lynch. It will be fun to see what Lynch can do next year.

Mick
11 years ago

Can’t believe you passed on Calvin.

11 years ago

Picked him up tonight in our our off season RFA auction before reading. I got him for $4.5M ($72M cap) while Ryan Grant went for $15M (yikes), Addai for $6M, and CedBen for $5.5M. I came in with the least amount of money and an already playoff caliber team; thankfully everyone was waiting on some stud WR’s. Steal of the auction until some one got Brandon Marshall late at $8M. I had Lynch pegged for $8-8.5MM. And my jaw hit the floor when the previous owner didn’t match my high bid. Yes!!

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  KC Guzz
11 years ago

Nice … now let’s hope that he performs. I think he could surprise a few this year.

Jerry S.
11 years ago

I have 3 hours to decide whether to keep him or Steve Johnson in a distance scoring league… my other RB’s are

Rashard Mendenhall
Jonathan Stewart
Knowshon Moreno
Pierre Thomas

WR’s are…

Marques Colston
Miles Austin
Kenny Britt
Julio Jones
Robert Meachem…

I’ve been torn on this decision but am thinking I’ll be keeping Lynch… thoughts??

Jerry S.
Reply to  Jeff Haverlack
11 years ago

Well my thoughts are this… Mendenhall… he’s fully entrenched as my starter… as for the 2nd starter… Stewart… look what happened to him last year with the total lack of carries early on… granted DeAngelo is supposed to leave but what if he doesn’t.. anddd on top of that if he does leave what if he goes to Denver and screws things up for Moreno… because his old coach John Fox went there maybe he follows… and as far as Pierre Thomas.. we know the story there.. they drafted Mark Ingram… I could sure use depth at WR but the RB’s I have my doubts also… we still have our free agency day where I could get Fitzgerald, Braylon… it’s a salary dynasty league.. so there’s los of other WR prospects there while the runningback market is kind of dry…

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