2015 RB Sleepers: Marshawn Lynch Impact
Marshawn Lynch is coming back, and the Seahawks are offering a mega-contract. What a turn of events. As the 2014 season closed, was Lynch done in Seattle? "Yea." Were Fantasy owners getting excited about Christine Michael? "Yea." Was Lynch turning into a risky pick because he might not play - anywhere - in 2015? "Yea."
Oh, wait, you thought I was going to talk about Super Bowl XLIX and the worst call in Super Bowl history.
Let's sidebar quickly. Yes, not using Lynch to get one yard at the goal line was the worst call… ever… in all history of Super Bowl histories. Even Lynch agrees.
That said, watching the worst call in Super Bowl history happen mere feet in front of you does nothing to affect the 2015 Fantasy season. Well, it's possible that Lynch is annoyed enough by the call to decline that contract, but money talks… loudly. The big takeaway is that if Lynch returns to the Seahawks, Michael's and Robert Turbin's values take huge hits. Even though the Seahawks used Turbin more often, most analysts projected Michael to be the breakout player in 2015 and saw him as a top-end RB2. Not.any.more.
So what do you do now? I'm here to give you some 2015 breakout alternatives to either grab now - whether via trade or insanely early drafts - or to lock away in your memory until draft season arrives.
Carlos Hyde - The most obvious name on the list, Frank Gore appears done. Whether that's career wise or not, it's unlikely he's back with the 49ers. That leaves the door wide open for Hyde, who brings tons of power, but it quite allusive, especially for his size. Hyde is also a good pass-blocker, which will keep him on the field for all three downs. The 49ers promoted Geep Chryst, QB coach from 2011-14, which points to the offense not changing significantly, and the 49ers ran for the fourth most yards in 2014.
Latavius Murray - Another obvious name, as Murray impressed late in the season once the Raiders finally gave him the opportunity. Murray averaged 91.5 YPG over the last four weeks on 79 touches. As Derek Carr and the Raiders improve, Murray as the feature back will be a rock solid RB2 (as long as they move on from Darren McFadden and don't bring in another option).
Jonathan Stewart - I know, I know. I hate me too for including JStew. After all, as long as there has been a JStew-DWill backfield in Carolina, my mantra is "never draft a Panthers running back." How…ev…er. Only DeMarco Murray had more rushing yards from Weeks 13-17, and he needed 34 more attempts. Stewart averaged 5.34 YPC in that span, and it appears as though DeAngelo Williams will finally be out of the picture. If so, and IF Stewart can stay healthy, we're actually looking at a borderline RB1.
Lorenzo Taliaferro - This is a huge gamble, but if Justin Forsett walks in free agency, Talia would be the lead option in Baltimore, and he flashed upside several times in 2014. Taliaferro is not a RB1; heck, he's not even a high-end RB2. He is a quality runner who averaged 4.3 YPC, and Bernard Pierce disappointed in his opportunity.
Charles Sims - This is more about Doug Martin not being a top-flight running back. Martin averaged just 3.68 YPC, even with the big late-season games. To that note, Martin is averaging just 3.6 YPC since his rookie season. Sims is Matt Forte-light. Similar skill set, not quite as talented, but certainly better than Martin in the passing game. We're looking at a shared backfield for 2015, but if Martin falters or gets hurt again, Sims could have RB2 value.
Devonta Freeman - We have no idea what the plans will be for the Falcons 2015 season. One would think that Freeman gets a crack at the lead role, but often played behind Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith. Assuming Steven Jackson is gone, Freeman has a good first step and acceleration, which can lead to big days with defenses focused on the passing game.
Montee Ball - Don't cast him aside just yet. C.J. Anderson certainly did what everyone hoped Ball would do, but Ball is still the better talent… at least on paper. With a new coaching staff in 2015, Ball could get a crack at reclaiming his role alongside Peyton Manning, and any running back worth a lick next to Manning can put up terrific numbers.
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