Fantasy leaguers who’ve been keep close tabs on the NFL offseason know that the value of Marshawn Lynch has taken a tumble.
The veteran running back had another negative off-field incident earlier this year and eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor illegal possession of a firearm in the state of California. The incident, coupled with his previous indiscretions, resulted in a league-imposed three-game suspension.
Lynch has since appealed the ruling, but for now fantasy owners have to plan to be without Lynch until Week 4 (Oct. 4) when the Bills face the Dolphins in Miami.
If that isn’t enough to hurt Lynch’s stock, then came the offseason addition of Dominic Rhodes.
Rhodes, a former 1,000-yard runner during his time with the Colts, was signed to provide depth in the backfield during Lynch’s suspension. However, the veteran can still put up numbers (as he did last season) and will no doubt look to earn carries in the offense.
Now comes word that Fred Jackson, who will replace Lynch as the team’s starter for the first three weeks, could see a bigger role in 2009.
“I’d like to see an ever-increasing role with Fred,” said running backs coach Eric Studesville. “He’s proven that he’s dependable and productive in everything that we’ve asked him to do. So we’re going to do it, get him more touches and find more ways to get him in the game.”
Jackson proved last season that he has the skills and abilities to put up solid totals. He posted career bests in just about every statistical category and finished strong with a 136-yard effort in the finale against New England.
Could Lynch actually end up sharing carries with Jackson and Rhodes?
With backfield committees rampant around the NFL, it’s certainly possible. Lynch should regain the starting role upon his return, but it will be hard for the Bills to make him a true featured runner, especially if Jackson plays well in a prominent spot against the Patriots, Buccaneers and Saints.
Lynch will still be the first Bills running back taken in drafts, likely in the fourth or fifth round. But he’s no longer a borderline No. 1 fantasy starter.
In fact, Lynch should be seen as more of a low-end No. 2 back.
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