After barely seeing the field as a rookie, Christine Michael has the potential to be a breakout star for fantasy owners this season.
The Seattle Seahawks have relied on Marshawn Lynch to be the workhorse at running back over the past few seasons, and it has led to plenty of success for both the team and the player. In the past three years, Lynch has totaled 4,051 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns while helping the squad win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Unfortunately, this partnership has gone through a bit of a rough patch as Lynch prepares to hold out of training camp in search of a new contract. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes, this could last a while, as the Seahawks do not want to settle:
The #Seahawks learned in the last few days that Marshawn Lynch would hold out for camp. And no, they still don’t plan on paying him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 24, 2014
Over the past three years, Lynch has averaged over 300 rushing attempts, which is a lot of mileage for any running back. Considering he is 28 years old, fans and fantasy owners should already be expecting a bit of a decline. He already fell from five yards per carry in 2012 to 4.2 yards per carry in 2013.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com points out that many past holdouts have not led to successful seasons for running backs, including Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew in recent years.
However, the real problem for Lynch is that the Seahawks are prepared to go on without him, as Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated points out:
If Lynch does hold out through camp... Well, that could backfire. Christine Michael is ready to pop.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) July 25, 2014
Robert Turbin was the No. 2 running back in Seattle last season, totaling 264 yards on 77 attempts, while Michael only managed 18 carries for 79 yards. Despite this, Michael has more upside and is the one more likely to breakout this season.
The former Texas A&M star has a great mix of size, speed and power to make him a force in the running game. He showed his ability in last year's preseason when he totaled 201 rushing yards on 40 carries, including a 43-yard touchdown.
While he did not parlay this into regular-season production, this was mainly due to his inability to help out in the passing game.
However, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell explained that Michael has improved his all-around game drastically. According to Jayson Jenks of The Seattle Times, Bevell said the running back "just really needed to focus in on the detail of things: footwork, reads, assignments. All those kinds of things that he’s really doing right now. He’s really kind of turned the page on last year."
The coach also explained that Michael could have an increased role even before Lynch's holdout, via Terry Blount of ESPN.com:
Bevell: "We are going to be running back by committee. We really like what Christine Michael is doing right now."— Terry Blount (@TerryBlountESPN) June 5, 2014
Lynch will eventually come back to the field, but you can be certain Michael will see his role greatly increase compared to last season. Considering Seattle ranked second in the league in rushing attempts in 2013, the opportunity will be there to be productive.
With the amount of talent the second-year player possesses, he should be able to post big enough numbers to make him a worthwhile selection in the middle rounds of you fantasy draft.
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