The Player Profile series breaks down the 2012 performances of key players at each position in order to project where they should be drafted in 2013. Dig in, read up, and look ahead.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Lynch had the best season of his career in 2012. He gained 1,786 total yards from scrimmage on 315 carries (5th most among RBs) and 23 receptions out of the backfield, while crossing the goal line 11 times.
He finished the season with the 4th most fantasy points among running backs. He posted a sexy 5.05 YPC, only behind Adrian Peterson, CJ Spiller, and Jamaal Charles.
In a world of uncertainty, Beast Mode provided owners with something to count on. Over the final 10 weeks of the season, Lynch gained at least 100 yards in all but two games. While the first few weeks of the season might have made investors nervous, Lynch paid huge dividends to patient owners who stuck with him.
There is no reason to believe that Lynch has reached the peak of his career. He is on an upward swing that will surely continue into 2013 and potentially beyond. Lynch is in a great, young place to build upon the stats he produced this year.
Russell Wilson, Sydney Rice, and Doug Baldwin are all strong offensive weapons. This season was a good example of how Marshawn can benefit from a high functioning offense. While he is one of the best running backs in the league, Marshawn is no longer the only offensive weapon the Seahawks have. Seattle’s defense will more than likely keep most games low scoring, helping to ensure that Lynch will be involved every week.
Lynch’s current ADP is hovering around 4th overall, and this is exactly where he belongs. I believe he has every chance to finish 2013 as the top scoring fantasy back.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Commonly referred to as “The Butler”, Alfred Morris cleaned up defenses with his great open field speed and pile driving strength. Had it not been for the incredible quarterback play of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson, Morris would have been a top contender for Rookie of the Year.
I covered Morris’ rookie campaign in a previous article, (found here), but here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
He finished the season with the 5th most fantasy points among running backs. He totaled 1,610 yards on 335 carries, and reached the end zone 13 times. It was clear that the Redskins Week 10 bye gave Morris the boost he needed to turn up his production into the second half of the season. Starting in Week 11, The Butler went on an incredible run, averaging almost 117 yards and over a touchdown per game to finish out the season. Check out the linked article if you want to read more about Morris’ fantastic rookie campaign.
Looking ahead to your 2013 draft, The Butler’s current ADP ranges between a first and second round choice. In the second, Alfred would be incredibly undervalued. The idea of getting the 5th best fantasy back then would cause many investors to cry out in excitement. Unfortunately, his ADP will most be higher when August arrives. I would be surprised if he’s still available after Round 1.
Although Morris was a little less consistent than some would like to see from their RB1, there is reason to believe Morris will have more consistency in 2013. If the Redskins want any chance of keeping their star quarterback healthy, they will come into the 2013 with a dialed back game plan. And if Griffin’s knee holds up, he’ll still run and be a focal part of the offense, but the Shanahans will figure out a way to keep Griffin out of harm’s way.
While it seems like an emphasis on passing would hurt Morris’ value, we need to keep in mind that an effective passing game goes hand in hand with an effective run game. Stretching opposing defenses with downfield plays helps free up the line of scrimmage and keep linebackers from committing to stopping the run. This could definitely benefit Morris, who still put up a great season without the help of consistent downfield threats.
As far as your 2013 draft is concerned, The Butler is a solid RB1 and an absolute slam-dunk if you somehow, someway get him as your RB2. As stated earlier, his average draft position will hover somewhere in the late 1st, early 2nd round and that’s exactly where he belongs.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Since his career began in 2008, Ray Rice has proved his worth in fantasy football year in and year out. This season was no different, as Rice finished the season with the 6th most fantasy points among running backs.
However, this past campaign left many owners wanting more. We have to keep in mind that any overreaction can lead to poor decision-making during your draft. I mean, after all, Rice had 1,621 yards from scrimmage on 61 receptions and 257 carries out of the backfield. He found the endzone 10 times, and showed that he’s still a PPR stud.
And sure, while many running backs would be ecstatic to reach these totals, for Ray Rice, this was far from his best performance. In fact, his 2012 yardage total was the lowest he’s seen since his rookie year, when he was running with Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee, and Jalen Parmele.
Part of the problem with Rice this season was Cam Cameron’s inability to gain offensive momentum. The Ravens also seemed to put an emphasis on showing Joe Flacco’s “elite” value, and because of that, Rice was slightly neglected. In 2012, Baltimore had a nasty 36.8% third down conversion rate. It’s close to impossible to get a run game going when a team isn’t converting on third down. Add in the constant presence of Bernard Pierce and Vonta Leach, who took over when Rice wasn’t effective, and you’ve got yourself a down year for one of the best backs in the league.
All in all, there were a lot of reasons that led to an underperforming Rice. Even still, there’s little reason to not like him in 2013. Rice is one of the sturdiest backs in the business and has never missed a game due to injury throughout his entire career.
He’s a great RB1 that you should continue to count on week after week. His current ADP is right where you would expect, at 5th overall, and there’s only a short list of backs that I would draft ahead of Rice in 2013 (Peterson and Lynch). The Ravens back is the ultimate safety play. You know what you’re going to get. I subscribe to the notion that it is never a bad idea to draft Ray Rice.