Lynch retains top fantasy value by staying in Seattle

The Urban Dictionary online defines the term "Beast Mode" as the "superhuman state of being, in which animal instinct takes over mind and body." In the world of fantasy football, we define "Beast Mode" with two words ... Marshawn Lynch. To the delight of Seattle Seahawks and fantasy fans all around the globe, Lynch has agreed to a contract extension with the team that will keep him in the Great Northwest for the remainder of his career.

Lynch hasn't only been a beast on the football field, running over and through opponents seemingly at will, but he's also been one of the most consistent fantasy point scorers in the entire league. Since 2011, he's finished no worse than fifth in points among running backs. Lynch has been number one in two other categories in that time ... offensive touches (1,305) and carries (1,181), and that's just in the regular season. You can go ahead and tack on another 174 touches (164 carries) in eight playoff contests, giving him a total of 1,479 total touches since 2011.

That's an absolute boatload of touches.

While Lynch's workload has been massive, other running backs have had far more during the Super Bowl era. In fact, his 1,305 touches isn't even among the five-most in a four-season span. The runner with the most offensive touches based on our guidelines and excluding the postseason, is former fantasy deity LaDainian Tomlinson (1,654 touches) from 2001-2004.

The biggest question facing those of us in the fantasy business is, well, the same one we faced in 2014 ... will all of these touches catch up to Lynch?

Aside from touching the football an average of 326 times a year since 2011, Lynch will also be 29 when the new NFL season begins. That's right around the age where we have seen countless runners before him start to break down. We also know that he's played through chronic pain due to compressed cartilage in his back, which caused him problems in 2014. The ailment didn't keep him off the field, though, as Lynch still saw action in all 16 games. What's more, he's missed just one game in the last four seasons despite all of his work.

That's part of the reason that I'm overlooking the red flags and will select Lynch with confidence in the first round of 2015 drafts.

Why else will I buy into the Skittles-obsessed runner out of California?

Well, Lynch is also in an offense that will continue to feed him the football as much as he can handle. He also has an advantage in the presence of quarterback Russell Wilson. If you load the box in an attempt to tame the beast, Wilson can beat you with his arm or his legs. Remmeber, he rushed for 849 yards in 2014. Wilson's tools as a runner are also beneficial to keeping Lynch fresh, as he's averaged over 100 carries in each of his first three NFL seasons.

I'm also going to use the eye test in how I project Lynch next season, because he didn't look like a running back who is on the verge of falling off a statistical cliff. To the contrary, he still looks like a player who will continue to produce major fantasy totals. It also doesn't hurt that Lynch will be running behind an impressive offensive line that should be granted at least some of the credit for his success.

Fantasy owners also need to keep in mind that a number of the top running backs will come with at least some risk in 2015.

Among the elite at the position, five will be 28 or older ... that list includes Lynch, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson. Le'Veon Bell could be looking a two- or four-game ban right in the face, too. If we were in a different time, when the NFL didn't have such a large number of backfield committees, well then maybe Lynch would be a bit less attractive because of his workload.

But in 2015, when good runners will come at a premium, I won't fear the Beast. In fact, I'll be embracing him.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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