As we enter Week 17, there will be a new, yet old, face in the Seattle Seahawks locker room. That’s because Marshawn Lynch signed with the Seahawks on Monday evening in an effort to give them a push as they make their way into the NFC Playoffs. Lynch, who played six games for the Oakland Raiders in 2018, will join a depleted backfield with Travis Homer and newly signed Robert Turbin as the only healthy running backs. This comes after Rashaad Penny tore his ACL two weeks ago and after Chris Carson suffered a season-ending hip injury against the Arizona Cardinals.
Now that Lynch will be suiting up again, what can we expect from him in terms of production? Does he hold any value as a fantasy player in Week 17, whether for those trying to win a championship or for someone who may want to roll the dice in DFS? And what type of impact might it have on the betting lines and totals for Sunday’s NFC West Championship game vs. the San Francisco 49ers? Let’s dive in and take a look.
Should I start Lynch in my fantasy matchup or in DFS?
From PFN Fantasy Analyst Tommy Garrett: After losing Carson to a fractured hip in Week 16, the Seahawks backfield is in absolute shambles. Carson adds to the long list of injured running backs and joins the ranks of Penny and C.J. Prosise. Prior to signing Lynch, only Homer and Turbin were the only healthy backs on the team’s 53-man depth chart. Clearly, they need desperate help in a must-win game, so why not go back to one of the all-time great Seahawk players?
We all would love to see Lynch again on the field – that isn’t for debate. What is up for discussion, however, is whether or not his return would be worth the risk for fantasy football championships or as a cash-saver in DFS for Week 17.
To be blunt and to the point, I am skeptical. Other than a dart throw play for the exposure in DFS, I would be passing on Lynch where I can. It’s not that the numbers were terrible the last time we saw him. When Lynch spent the 2018 season with the Raiders, he averaged 13.61 PPR points over his six games. His 105 touches for 460 yards and three touchdowns put him in decent RB3/Flex consideration. The problem I have is that the last time we saw him on the field was Week 6 of 2018. What has his conditioning been like? Has he been staying in game shape? At 33 years old, these are legitimate concerns.
Look back at what happened to Melvin Gordon, for example, and the slow start he had when he returned for his self-imposed holdout (and we know he was staying in shape during that time). Usually, I would love getting a running back on the #7 DVOA rushing team in football, but the matchup isn’t great as the San Francisco 49ers have a decent rushing defense. Even if Lynch is ready to go on Sunday, you have to think head coach Pete Carroll will want to rely on Wilson’s arm and mobility to get out with a win.
Although the Seahawks are 4th in the NFL in rushing plays per game, I expect that to change in Week 17 and only run to set up the pass instead of relying on it. Lynch coming back is a great story, but I don’t think you should be betting your fantasy livelihood on Beast Mode carrying you to victory.
At 33 years old and not having taken a snap in a year, will Marshawn Lynch be able to produce on the field?
From PFN CEO Matt Cannata: There is always the question of how quickly Lynch can get into game shape, especially at this point in the season. On the contrary, one can point to his fresh legs, which cannot be underestimated. To get a better idea of what we can expect from Lynch, we’ll take a look at his Offensive Share Metric (OSM) from the 2018 season when he was with the Raiders. For those who aren’t familiar, PFN OSM grades measure how much of a player’s statistical production they were actually responsible for.
Although he only played in six games in 2018, Lynch qualified for the season with a minimum of 85 rushing attempts. His overall OSM grade for the season was 14.17, which put him at RB34 of 55. In the six games he played, he faced an 8-man box 22.22% of the time, which was the 29th (out of 55) lowest percentage in the league.
His efficiency score was 4.11, which put him at RB39. The lower your efficiency, the more north/south you ran. The higher, the more east/west you ran. Of course, you can point to the Raiders offensive line and their struggles in 2018, but you also can’t simply turn a blind eye to the fact that Lynch was towards the bottom of the league. To put this into perspective, Gus Edwards and Frank Gore led the league in efficiency with scores of 2.78 and 3.13, respectively.
When you look at the total package, we can confidentially say that Lynch was just below the middle of the pack. Nonetheless, the Seahawks believe that he still has some gas left in the tank.
With Lynch back in Seattle, the Seahawks are hoping he can rise above his 2018 OSM with a more potent offense than what the Raiders had last year. Although there are still questions about the Seahawks offensive line, an opposing defense would be foolish to stack eight men in the box and watch Russell Wilson pick them apart with the likes of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. And of course, Lynch in the backfield is likely going to strike more fear into the opposing defense than game planning for Homer or Turbin.
Will this have any impact on the betting lines and totals? How about player props?
From PFN Betting Analyst Chris Smith: It’s funny how the betting world works. Lynch was listed at +500 to sign with the Seahawks on BetOnline as of Monday morning, although the prop appears to have been taken down at some point on Monday afternoon. That’s no surprise given the fact that Carroll’s comments earlier made the signing sound like a foregone conclusion. If were still able to find the +500 posted anywhere before it was taken down, congratulations! You just won some money.
In terms of how the addition of Beast Mode might impact the betting line in Seattle Sunday night and beyond, the simple answer is not very much, actually. Look no further than Monday Night’s game in Minnesota where the Vikings were down their top two running backs, including Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook. Despite being left with undrafted Mike Boone at tailback, the Vikings remained anywhere from a four to five point favorite against the Green Bay Packers
If that downgrade in the Minnesota backfield didn’t have an impact on the betting line against the publicly backed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, a well past his prime Marshawn Lynch is unlikely to walk off the street and move the line against San Francisco.