It's been a busy offseason for Marshawn Lynch.
He was a no-show for voluntary OTAs in June. He held out of training camp, but after the Seattle Seahawks refused to blink, he returned less than a week later. Finally, when all seemed to calm down, a report broke that he had gone Beast Mode on some property in Bellevue, Washington.
Fortunately for Lynch, he's going to be a lot less busy on the field.
History suggests that's a difficult trend to continue. Since the turn of the century, 14 other running backs have hit the 285-carry mark in three consecutive seasons, per pro-football-reference.com. Of those 14, only five have surpassed the threshold the next year.
Don't get me wrong. Lynch is capable of doing that. He thrives off contact like Popeye thrives off spinach. But he's 28 years old, an age when many running backs being to see their production sharply decline. And with the kind of talent sitting behind him on the depth chart, Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and Co. can afford to limit his workload.
Robert Turbin has 157 career carries and has looked good in spurts, while Christine Michael is gushing with talent. Offensive line coach Tom Cable, via ESPN's Jessamyn McIntyre, talked about the sophomore's progression:
Carroll, via Q13Fox Sports' Aaron Levine, has also praised the backup:
Lynch got 301 carries last season. All things considered (don't forget about a healthy Percy Harvin potentially taking one or two fly sweeps and reverses per game), it wouldn't be surprising if that number dropped to the 250 range.
Considering he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry last season and doesn't catch a ton of passes, there won't be enough touches to justify his current first-round price tag (1.09, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com) in fantasy leagues.
If he slips to you in the middle or latter portion of the second, then by all means, scoop him up.
But Seattle's desire to keep him fresh and healthy for the playoffs, which is made possible by a tantalizing youth movement in the backfield, points to a decrease in volume.
That, in turn, points to a first-round disappointment.