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Marshawn Lynch is back but will he be the same?

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Even with Marshawn Lynch reporting to camp, do you think he'll be the same after 400-plus touches? -- @Dsil19 (via Twitter)

Marcas Grant: I'm not sure the Seahawks think he'll be the same. Sure, a lot of the talk about Christine Michael might have been to motivate Lynch to get into camp (it worked!), but it's also about lightening the load on a player who has averaged 300 carries per season over the last three years -- more than anyone else in the NFL. Since Lynch is the type of player that doesn't often shy away from contact, that punishment adds up. That's not to suggest that you shouldn't draft Beast Mode if he's available to you near the top of your draft. But it does mean that he's more likely to land in the neighborhood of 250-275 carries this season instead of the typical 300.

Should owners be worried about any of the holdout players? -- @ndutton13 (via Twitter)

M.G.: It's a little early to say "worried". A better word would probably be "concerned". The players we're keeping the closest eye on -- Vernon Davis and Andre Johnson -- are veteran guys who know what they need to do to get in shape for the season. While the teams would like them to be in camp (hence the "mandatory" designation), both have been playing football long enough to understand what it takes to get ready. Now if we get a week or so into training camp or even into preseason games and those players haven't reported, you have my permission to worry.

What's with the Montee Ball hype? -- @jayalldayerrday (via Twitter)

M.G.: Two words: Knowshon Moreno. Two more words: Peyton Manning. Generally speaking, running backs who have lined up behind Manning have had a pretty good go of things. Moreno was just the latest example. No one expected much from a player who had struggled with injury in the previous two seasons and was fighting for his job in camp. All he did was finish fifth in scoring among fantasy running backs. I'm not going to predict that level of production from Ball, but I do know he'll likely get the same level of opportunity as Moreno did last year. That should be enough to get fantasy owners hyped.

After Victor Cruz, which Giants wide receiver has the biggest fantasy impact this year? -- @TimSimmons23 (via Twitter)

M.G.: The man to keep your eye on is Rueben Randle. He's made steady improvement in his first two seasons ... and you know what they say about third-year receivers, right? Randle's also done a good job building a rapport with Eli Manning. Last season, when Manning seemingly couldn't throw a touchdown pass to anyone, he threw them to Randle. Over the course of a month, the two connected for six consecutive aerial touchdowns for Big Blue. With Hakeem Nicks now collecting his mail in Indianapolis, Randle should have every chance to take those snaps and many of those targets.

Who are the breakout wide receivers this year? Will Alex Smith throw a pass over 20 yards? -- @58chiefsfan (via Twitter)

M.G.: I've got my eye on four guys -- Randall Cobb, Michael Floyd, Terrance Williams and Marvin Jones. All four of those guys play in offenses that should throw the ball a lot and play opposite wideouts that generally draw a lot of attention from opposing secondaries. Cobb has the added benefit of playing in an attack that will try to get him the ball as a runner as well as a receiver. For more of our 2014 breakout players, read on. As for your second question ... anything is possible, right?

Arian Foster is back, but do you trust him as your stud? Injuries seem to haunt him. -- @LaLalovesKristi (via Twitter)

M.G.: If I'm sitting near the end of the first round and Foster is available, I wouldn't have a problem taking him. But I'd also be sure to get a high-end RB2 like Gio Bernard or Alfred Morris when my turn came back around. Regardless of what Foster says about his recent surgery, dealing with a balky back is always a risky proposition, especially for a player expected to see more touches this season. The potential for Foster to return to his previous form is high, but this is a situation where fantasy owners should have an insurance policy, just in case.

Any potential running backs to draft that aren't in a running back committee? -- @KTD_79 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Yup. The list goes like this, in no particular order -- Jamaaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster. Full stop. Once upon a time (say, last week), I might have included Le'Veon Bell. But after recent comments by Ben Roethlisberger, I'm not so sure. If you have a top eight pick in your draft, you've got a legitimate shot at getting a true featured back. Otherwise, it'll be committee meetings for you.

Tight end is always a thin position. Should I address that early on in the draft? Seems there are only 3-5 starting-caliber TEs. -- @PackersSBCHAMPS (via Twitter)


Watch "The Top 100 Players of 2014" every week at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network as we count down to the top player in the NFL. "The Top 100 Players of 2014 Reactions" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

M.G.: Remember that glorious Year of the Tight End in 2011? In retrospect, maybe we got a little carried away with that. There are four tight ends worth looking at in the first five rounds -- Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis. Except one is becoming increasingly injury-riddled while two of the others could be holdouts. The combination of uncertainty and lack of depth makes me more likely to wait and take a guy like Dennis Pitta, Jordan Cameron or Jason Witten somewhere in the middle rounds.

In standard leagues, in general, do you see better relative value in the RBs or WRs in the middle (4-7) rounds? -- @sledge_harris (via Twitter)

M.G.: It's the receivers, without a doubt. After the first three rounds, your top RBs will be long gone, leaving you with a collection of handcuffs and committee members to choose from. Meanwhile, there should still be some productive WR2/3 options still on the board. Just a sampling of the wideouts drafted during that stretch in our first staff mock draft: Randall Cobb, Pierre Garcon and Michael Crabtree. And that was in the fourth round alone! The NFL-as-a-passing league mantra is good for more than just the quarterbacks.

What do you do with Mikel Leshoure in dynasty leagues? -- @vkon1 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Sorta like that pair of zubaz pants that looked so great in the mid-90s, it's time to admit that things aren't going to work out anymore and say goodbye. Two seasons ago, it appeared Leshoure was going to be the running back of choice and a solid complement to Reggie Bush. Then Joique Bell happened. With a new coaching staff, there is still a chance for Leshoure to carve out a niche in the offense -- something he's reportedly taking advantage of -- but signs still point to Bush and Bell taking the bulk of the backfield snaps. You also need to keep in mind that Matthew Stafford has averaged 675 pass attempts over the past three seasons and there's a chance the Lions could get more pass-happy in 2014. Leshoure is looking more and more like a non-fantasy-factor.

Bonus question: Which rookie WR will be more fun to steal in late rounds: John Brown, John Brown or John Brown!?!? -- @ClevelanDynasty (via Twitter)

M.G.: All of those are excellent options. But I'm going to go with John Brown.


Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who goes trolling for gold at his local 99-cent stores. Tweet him about bargain hunting and fantasy football at @MarcasG.

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