Marshawn Lynch is in the building, and the Raiders look like they're going to keep him in that building - for a little while at least. Beast Mode appears to be on the verge of being traded to the Raiders somehow, which means un-retiring and some other paper work that I'm not all that interested in, but what I am interested in, is Lynch's fantasy usefulness for the 2017 season.
First off, Lynch will turn 31 years old on April 22nd. He will have spent his 30th year on earth traveling and apparently resting and then traveling some more. I'm guessing that at least puts him on the healthy side of not healthy. Thirty-one is old for a running back, but in no way does it mean he can't play anymore. Lynch's 2015 season was marred by a sports-hernia, so the year off seems useful, but also is worrisome as far as him getting completely back into playing shape and being able to protect himself from injuries. Since 1983, running backs 31 years of age or older have rushed for over 1,000 yards 22 times. And, around that many topped 250 rushing attempts. That number doesn't boost my faith in Lynch, but it also shows that plenty of backs have done it, including Frank Gore just last season, when he hit 1,025 yards rushing at the age of 33.
But what about the Oakland offense and the competition he'll see for touches? First off, Latavius Murray is gone. Despite being part of a committee last season, he was the main back, which included goal-line duties. The Oakland running backs as a whole rushed 24 times inside the opponent's five-yard line, which ranked sixth overall in the league. They rushed for 11 touchdowns from inside the five, which ranked fourth in the league. Murray saw the bulk of those, 17, and scored a healthy nine touchdowns on those carries. These are all good signs for Lynch's value, as he would be the no-doubt goal-line back.
The Raiders have some interesting running backs in DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard and Jamize Olawale, but none will take Lynch's early down and goal-line crown as long as he's healthy. They would take away some receiving responsibility even though Lynch has been competent in that role. At this point in his career though, coupled with young receiving backs next to him, I wouldn't want to put much stock in a big PPR season.
What kind of line do the Raiders have? First off, take a look at Latavius Murray's not-so-great ability and then look at how successful he was at the goal line last year. The Raiders have strength up front. PFF's Sam Monson ranks their line as the fourth best in the league. That ranking is also backed up by Derek Carr taking the fewest sacks in the league last season with just 18 - compare that to the Browns QBs, who were sacked 66 times!. The Raiders' line is solid, and if Lynch is a full-go, he has plenty of touchdown upside at the very least.
And the last bit of good news you can take or leave, is the fact that he is returning home to the Bay Area and the Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas in two to three years. Lynch isn't going to Vegas. If he signs, he wants a year or two in Oakland to try to bring that city some playoff success and hopefully a championship. He isn't returning just for a paycheck. If he's back, I'm bullish on him, especially in non-PPR leagues, where his touchdown numbers could put him toward the top-five fantasy running backs in the league.