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Lynch offers tremendous early value
The current Average Draft Position of Marshawn Lynch on NFL.com is 30.21. There are 11 other running backs listed higher than him in the most recent ADPs. They include a rookie (Trent Richardson) and a superstar who unfortunately has major injury questions surrounding him this year (Adrian Peterson).
If you can get Lynch as the 12th running back off the board in your own draft, you should shower yourself with Skittles. Lynch is coming off the most inspiring season of his career, and is set to be the centerpiece of the Seahawks’ offense. There are no current indications about any unavailability this year, and Lynch is both durable and determined. Those who steer clear of him in the first few rounds are making a mistake that can work to your benefit. Any suggested and perceived negatives about Lynch appear to have no solid basis heading into 2012.
Lynch received a multiyear deal from the Seahawks in March, and no matter what his contract status would be, you’re going to see the same runner you saw last season, one who spurred many Fantasy teams to a championship. Lynch was a Fantasy monster down the stretch last year, and there is absolutely no reason to expect a significant drop-off in week to week production. Lynch is the crux of the Seattle offense, and he has become much more comfortable in Tom Cable’s one-cut-and-go schemes.
Lynch scored a career-high 12 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as he reached the end zone in six consecutive games beginning in Week 4. He scored in all but one game from Weeks 4 to 16 and was the first RB to get in the end zone against the vaunted 49ers defense. He also had six 100-yard rushing games between Weeks 9 and 16. That’s consistent high-level statistical production, and Lynch was a Fantasy standout during the most important later weeks of the schedule.
Seattle’s offensive line looks healthy and improved, and the quarterbacks are capable of keeping the defense honest so Lynch will not face regularly stacked fronts. The passing game will be solid, putting Lynch in frequent position to score from short range. Michael Robinson is evolving into an ideal lead blocker, as he is great at recognizing fronts and attacking opposing defensive playmakers. Most importantly, Lynch will continue to run with tremendous tenacity, displaying the relentless style that has made him a Seahawks fan favorite and a Fantasy player who drives winners.
In point-per-reception formats, I have Lynch ranked seventh overall at RB on RotoExperts.com. He’s a safe pick who will be very dependable for solid rushing performances and regular TD production. Some other top RBs have significant question marks surrounding them, but Lynch offers reliability and prolific scoring output with no real downside. I have seen him go in the third and fourth round of many recent drafts. I believe he has high second round value. Grab him when others pass, and you’ll be thrilled to have him as your second running back.
Rookie Robert Turbin is the clear handcuff for Lynch in the later rounds, and if he is pressed into action, he should at least be serviceable for Fantasy purposes. He’s a big, powerful runner who will be worth starting consideration in Fantasy leagues if he is needed for usage. He is still learning the Cable system, and can be effective in it over time. Leon Washington is the obviously dangerous open-field type who has his most Fantasy appeal contributing to Fantasy defense/special teams units as a returner.
The “Big Three” at RB in Fantasy this year are Ray Rice, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy. They will often be the first three picks in many drafts in 2012. Rice offers the best combination of durability and versatility among them. Once those three are off the board, Chris Johnson seems set for a rebound year, and Ryan Mathews has tremendous upside, although he still must prove he can be a workhorse over a full season.
Matt Forte is set for a big year if he can stay healthy, and Maurice Jones-Drew will surely offer mostly terrific returns when available. Don’t let MJD slip too far. DeMarco Murray has a very high ceiling and superstar potential. Darren McFadden would be ranked among the elite if he could stay healthy, and Trent Richardson comes with a ton of promise, yet he will also get a lot of defensive attention. Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin could offer some nice value if you get him after the third round, and a healthy Fred Jackson should be a superb Fantasy producer. Ryan Williams will be simply electric if he can recapture his pre-injury form. Stevan Ridley is a fine later pick for possible TD production, and Kevin Smith and Jonathan Dwyer should also be on your radar as the draft moves into its later stages.
SEAHAWKS RB FANTASY HISTORY: Shaun Alexander’s 1,880 yard, 27-TD season in 2005 is surely the greatest Fantasy campaign in Seahawks lore. Yet other Seattle RBs offered fine Fantasy production in the earlier years of the game. Chris Warren rushed for 1,346 yards and 15 TDs in 1995, when Fantasy Sports were on the verge of becoming a national pastime. Curt Warner’s 1,481 yards and 13 TDs in 1986 was a banner season in the “pen and pad” pre-internet era.
NEXT WEEK: Terrell Owens and the tight ends.
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