During the 2013 National Football League regular season, Marshawn Lynch compiled 301 rushing attempts and 36 receptions for a total of 337 touches. During the playoff run that ended with a Seattle Seahawks win in the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos, he added 65 more rushing attempts and one more reception to bring his season touch total to 403. In my fantasy football keeper league, I traded for Lynch early in the month of January. Immediately after the Super Bowl I put him on the market and he was traded. You may be asking why would I trade away a player I just acquired a little over a month ago? My answer is because he went over the 400 touch mark.
Recent history has shown that more times than not, when a running back eclipses the 400 touch mark his following fantasy season is a major letdown. In the 2012 NFL season (regular season and playoffs), there were three running backs with 400 plus touches. They were Adrian Peterson with 411 touches, Arian Foster with 460 touches, and Ray Rice with 410 touches. During the 2012 season, they combined for 791 fantasy points, a 263 fantasy point average, and were ranked as the No. 1, 3, and 6 running backs respectively. The following season they combined for a 48% decrease in fantasy points and only Adrian Peterson remained a top-10 running back.
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Including the three running backs that exceeded 400 touches in 2012, there have been a total of 17 running backs that have done it 27 times since 2003. In those 27 instances, only four players have increased their output the following season. Those four players did it a total five times, Ray Rice in 2011; Adrian Peterson in 2009; Edgerrin James in 2004 and 2005; and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005. Although they were able to increase their fantasy point total, a decrease in fantasy points is more likely. The average decrease in fantasy points is 34.1% the year following a 400 touch season. Nine times the reduction in fantasy points were due to an injury which could be attributed to the heavy workload the running backs endured the prior season. Age has to be considered when determining if a player can improve his fantasy stats. No player older than 27 years of age has ever increased their fantasy performance after a 400 touch season; Lynch turned 28 years old in April of this year.
Using the 34.1% average decrease as a benchmark, it is likely that Lynch’s 2014 fantasy point total will be around the 158 point range. Using 2013 running back point totals, Lynch would have been the 18th ranked running back and a low RB2 in most 12 team fantasy leagues. His current 2014 average draft position (ADP) of 10.2 makes him the sixth running back off the board behind LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Eddie Lacy. In my opinion, he is currently being drafted much higher then maybe he should be. If you draft Lynch in your fantasy league this season be sure to handcuff him with the future running back in Seattle, Christine Michael.