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Fantasy implications of Marshawn Lynch's holdout

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With the news that Marshawn Lynch will hold out from Seahawks training camp, we thought it would be helpful to dig a little deeper into his statistical history to investigate what this could mean for his fantasy value in 2014.

Beast Mode leads the NFL with 901 carries over the last three seasons. That's a colossal workload for any running back these days, especially with the committee trend starting to spread league-wide. There are only a handful of teams that continue to use a featured back for all three downs. Of course Adrian Peterson comes to mind -- he ranks second in carries over the past three years with 835.

Such an immense burden eventually catches up with these running backs, as the continual wear-and-tear takes a physical toll over time. Six of the previous 13 rushers with similar three-year workloads to Lynch suffered injuries either in that third season or the following season including Arian Foster (2013), Adrian Peterson (2011), Larry Johnson (2007/2008), Shaun Alexander (2006), Priest Holmes (2004), and Terrell Davis (1999).

Lynch is only the 14th rusher in NFL history to produce to the tune of 901 carries for 4,051 yards and 35 touchdowns in a span of three years. It's an understatement to say that he's had an amazing and valuable run for fantasy owners. Unfortunately nothing gold can stay, and as running back holdout history foreshadows, a decline is most certainly inevitable.

Coach Pete Carroll said on Friday that he's "Hoping [Lynch will] be back with us." But for the players behind Lynch on Seattle's depth chart, the situation presents a window for them to step up as Carroll stated, "This is a tremendous opportunity for the guys getting their shot. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael, they're ready to go, really fired up about this opportunity to try to take full advantage of it."

As this story plays out, we can hypothesize that the aforementioned downward trend of past rushers coupled with Lynch's unwillingness to be with his team mean one thing: The stage is set for Seattle's second-year backup Michael to inch closer to the sweet pot of gold awaiting discovery at the end of Lynch's Skittles-generated rainbow. In other words, if the Seahawks decide to play hardball with Beast Mode, Michael could end up being the first guy fantasy owners will want to target in Seattle's backfield.



Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Practice makes perfect, so he encourages you to do some mock drafts in preparation for the fantasy season. You can follow him on Twitter at @m_franciscovich

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