Can Marshawn Lynch once again become a fantasy star?
Remember when Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch ran over, through, and around just about the entire Saints defense on a 67-yard touchdown run in a 2010 NFC Wild-Card Game? It sealed his team's 41-36 victory and set off such a frenzy in the Qwest Field stands that it reportedly registered seismic activity at a nearby monitoring station.
Now, remember all those times in 2007 and 2008 that Lynch lifted your fantasy team on his back and carried it to victory? Ha-ha. Trick question. That never happened!
And, no, that's not a knock on Lynch. It's just that he is a player whose fantasy potential has always preceded him. Fantasy owners counted on Lynch, the 12th overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, to be a fantasy star. He posted a pair of 1,000-yard rushing campaigns those first two seasons, but didn't rank among the top 15 in yards from scrimmage or the top 20 in touchdowns.
His looming stardom then mostly fizzled after a league-imposed suspension to start the 2009 season. Even after he was given a fresh start with the trade to Seattle in 2010, Lynch was largely unspectacular, except for a three-touchdown effort against the lowly Panthers and, of course, that memorable run against the Saints.
There are some things to like about Lynch's chances to return to his 1,000-yard form this year, especially now that he'll be with the Seahawks from the start this season. He's still only 25 years old and doesn't have a lot of excess mileage on him; his high-water mark for touches came in 2008 when he ranked 10th in the league with 297, and he's had a reasonable 372 touches in two seasons since. Also consider that his immediate backups are players better suited for change-of-place roles than a shared workload.
On the other hand, Lynch will likely have an aging Matt Hasselbeck or an untested Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback to help keep defenses honest against the pass. Pete Carroll's offense took huge strides in its second season at his last coaching stop in Southern California, but the talent may not be there to make a similar jump in Seattle.
Bottom Line: In a best-case scenario, Lynch could approach the statistics he posted in Buffalo earlier in his career. Just don't expect those numbers to make him better than a No. 2 back for your fantasy team.