After a somewhat disappointing season in 2017 for fantasy owners, Marshawn Lynch is looking for redemption. With the signing of Doug Martin and the hiring of Coach Jon Gruden in the off-season, the uncertainty surrounded Lynch even before camp started in 2018.
The addition of Doug Martin may make fantasy players shy away from drafting Lynch. Martin could be a nice complimentary piece in the backfield, but he is not the running back he used to be. The past 2 seasons he has averaged a measly 2.9 yards per carry. There is a reason Tampa Bay chose to let him walk. Oakland also brought back Seattle’s former offensive line coach from Lynch’s days with the Seahawks, Tom Cable. This should only install more confidence in drafting the services of Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch Finishes Strong
Digging into his 2017 season, there are a lot of surprising statistics. The first half of the season, he was barely used. Some may say he looked like he was running in quick sand. Lynch averaged 3.7 yards per carry in the first 5 games to go along with 2 scores. The second half of games from weeks 9-17 were a different story. He gained 625 of his 891 yards with 5 touchdowns. In the final 5 games alone, he averaged 86.8 yards, good enough for 4th best in the league and 5.2 yards per carry, which was 2nd best in the league. These stats should not be ignored and clearly shows that he has plenty left in the tank.
This past off-season, Marshawn Lynch worked again with trainer Jamal Liggin to increase his speed and explosiveness. He came to camp at a “trim” 215lbs and appears visually less bulky. On his only carry so far this preseason against Detroit, he dashed 60 yards to the end zone past Glover Quin for a TD. This touchdown would later be called back due to holding penalty on 1st round pick Kolton Miller. However, you could plainly see that Lynch looks faster and ready to regain the form that made him one of fantasy’s biggest stars.
Age Doesn’t Matter
Currently at 32 years of age, most fantasy football owners are weary of drafting Lynch. Most 30 + year old running backs tend to drop off in production. Based off of the last 5 games of last year and the speed he showed off vs the Detroit Lions in the preseason week 1, you should really re-think your draft strategy when it comes to Marshawn Lynch. Regardless of his age, Beast Mode appears to be back.
Looking at the Raiders upcoming schedule, it fares well for Marshawn. The Oakland Raiders have the 9th best strength of schedule for running backs (per fantasypros.com). Also, per Pro Football Focus, the Raiders have the #7 ranked offensive line in the NFL.
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If you are looking for great value, Lynch is going off the board in rounds 6-7 as RB#29. To give you an idea on running backs being drafted before him are: Sony Michel at RB#26, Dion Lewis at RB#27 and Tevin Coleman at RB#28. While these other backs might be younger, none are considered bell cow running backs or even starters like Marshawn Lynch. He might be the best value pick of all running backs heading into this season and you should have confidence in him outperforming his ADP.