Evaluating running backs after they switch teams is a tough thing to do, especially in a day where having a true workhorse back is rare. Are they going to play all downs? Are they going to be in a timeshare on early downs? Will they be as productive? Will they do well in a zone blocking scheme after being a downhill runner most of their career? There are so many questions, but let’s try to break down and understand what we can expect from Marshawn Lynch.
I just really like Marshawn Lynch. And I also saw this video that head coach Jack Del Rio shared on Twitter. I’m on the hype train. The Raiders offense is good. They have two very talented receivers who have a good rapport with David Carr, a good offensive line, and they had a good running game with Latavius Murray leading the way. There was a period towards the beginning of the year where the Raiders had a real timeshare between three backs. During that time, Murray got most of the goal line work and had some fantasy value because of that, but we couldn’t count on it because he was only getting around 10 carries a game.
When Murray went out with an injury Weeks 5 and 6, Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard couldn’t get it done and it was a complete split. These two each had an opportunity to do some damage, but neither could really take advantage. Once Murray got back into the lineup in Week 7, he got 18 carries. That tells me the team didn’t trust Washington or Richard as anything more than change of pace guys as much anymore after giving them a chance to stand out during those games. Murray’s carry totals the rest of the way were 18, 11, 20, 12, 19, 20, 22, 13, 15, 5. The split for the year was about 50% for Murray and a quarter each for Richard and Washington.
Back to Lynch. I don’t think these other guys will compete as much as Murray had to do before Week 7 for carries. He got paid, came out of retirement, and he will get the ball. Murray had 195 carries last year in 14 games. If Lynch can play 16 games, I would expect around 225-240 carries.That would put him at about the 10th to 12th most carries if he played in 2016. Murray wasn’t that efficient last year on his carries, so I do think that the coaching staff will be willing to give Lynch more opportunity since I do think he’ll more more efficient than Murray. He probably won’t be much of a factor on third down because of the pass-catching skills of Washington and Richard. As far as touchdowns, Lynch will get plenty of opportunities in this offense, which just got better. Murray had 12 last year, and Lynch is a bit more unrelenting to get in the end zone once he smells it. Murray was 7th in the league last year with 16 rushing attempt within the 5 yard line.
The questions come when we talk about scheme. Lynch was very successful as a downhill runner in Seattle. The Raiders supposedly run a lot of shotgun and have to adjust. I wouldn’t buy into that. Last year, the Raiders rushed the ball 197 times out of the shotgun and 361 times out of a lone setback formation. In 2014, when Lynch ran for 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns, the Seahawks ran the ball 278 times out of the shotgun and 324 times out of a lone setback formation. Marshawn Lynch will be just fine. I’m very happy to get him as the first pick of the 3rd down, which is where he’s being drafted right now. That’s around Lamar Miller, Leonard Fournette, Crowell, and Ware. Sign me up, especially for a guy who hasn’t taken a beating in a year, but has been keeping in shape. Del Rio just messed up with that video, because his ADP will rise off of pure hype. Hopefully not too high.