In fantasy football, the hardest position to predict leaders at is running back. Due to poor performances, injuries, backfield turmoil, and poor offensive lines, some of the most highly drafted running backs can disappoint fantasy owners.
Marshawn Lynch, after coming out of retirement, agreed to a deal with the Oakland Raiders last week. He is not officially a Raider because Seattle still controls Lynch’s rights, but assuming he is a Raider next season. Lynch could find himself in a position to be very successful.
One of the biggest concerns with running backs, especially those as old as Lynch, is injury. However, Lynch does not carry large injury concerns. He missed nearly half of the 2015 season with a sports hernia, but besides that, Lynch has only missed one game since 2011.
Another large concern with running backs who arrive is workload. The Raiders’ backfield was a four-headed monster last season consisting of Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and Jamize Olawale. Latavius Murray, who handled the most carries of the four, left the team in the offseason and joined the Minnesota Vikings. Murray, who served primarily as an early down and goal line back, recorded 195 carries for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 195 carries and 12 touchdowns show the Raiders’ commitment to their early down and red zone running backs. Lynch will likely assume Murray’s role in the backfield, which means he should see red zone opportunities and double-digit carries every game.
Finally, both Lynch and the Raiders have the talent to be successful next year. The Oakland Raiders’ offensive line, highlighted by LT Donald Penn and C Rodney Hudson, was ranked 4th in the NFL last season. Lynch also has the talent to succeed. In 2015, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 5th best running back in the NFL, even though he ran behind what was ranked the 30th best offensive line in the league.
Due to his offensive line, durability, and athletic ability, if he plays for the Raiders next season, Marshawn Lynch is in position to have a great year. He can be drafted with confidence as early as the eigth round.
On most offseason rankings, Mike Wallace is ranked outside of the top 40. In fact, in many he is ranked outside of the top 50. However, Wallace should be able to return solid WR2/WR3 value for you this season. Last season, despite playing opposite Steve Smith Sr., Wallace finished 21st in the NFL in receiving yards, finishing with 1,017 yards on the season. He also finished 33rd in receptions at 72.
These stats alone suggest that Wallace is being undervalued, but the retirement of Steve Smith should also help Mike Wallace. Last year, Wallace finished second on the team in receptions, falling behind only tight end Dennis Pitta (86 receptions). Wallace led the rest of the rest of his teammates in receiving yards, finishing with over 200 more yards than anyone else on the team. With the No. 3 WR on the Ravens leaving as well (Kamar Aiken, 33 receptions), Wallace could be in for a monster year.
One of the biggest concerns regarding Mike Wallace’s volume could be the Ravens drafting a wide receiver in the first or second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. While that could affect his workload, Wallace should still see plenty of targets in an offense that is losing two of its top three wide receivers. Wallace’s year of experience with Joe Flacco should also help him get a higher target share than any receiver on the team (excluding Dennis Pitta).
Due to his opportunity for many targets and his skills at Wide Receiver, feel confident drafting Mike Wallace as a steal any time after the 8th round.