Though negated by a penalty, Marshawn Lynch ripped a 60-yard TD run and flashed his underappreciated fantasy upside during the Raiders’ Preseason Opener. On the play, we saw two crucial developments: A) Lynch is in incredible shape. B) The Raiders are returning to a power-gap blocking scheme under Jon Gruden. Combined, both could make Lynch the Fantasy RB1 most envisioned last season, but at a far discounted price (70 ADP).
Though 32-years old and coming off a (by his standards) sluggish 2017, Lynch is a sneakily massive rebound candidate under new HC Jon Gruden. For one, Gruden hasn’t hid his love for The Beast, nor his intentions to ride him:
“I said to him, ‘I need Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden told Sports Illustrated in February. ‘I don’t need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch… We don’t need another back, we need a feature back… I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”
Meanwhile, Lynch’s family and friends reported the back “loves Gruden” and answered the above challenge by working himself into “the best condition I’ve seen him in in a long time.” This was full on display during his 60-yard TD run, as Lynch looked faster than he has in years, perhaps even ever.
There’s some very real unsexy upside here. For one, Lynch openly admits he wasn’t in game-shape until midseason last year. When finally in peak form, following the team’s bye and during their final 8 weeks, Lynch rushed for 625 of 891 yards (70%), as well as 5 of 7 TDs (71%). A Pro-Bowl level 1250 yds and 10 TDs pace. Already looking in phenomenal shape, Lynch should avoid the slow start and pick up right where he left off… mauling people.
Beyond his physical form, Lynch also benefited from the team’s midseason switch from a zone-based attack to a power-heavy blocking scheme. In this misfitted zone-blocking scheme, PFF had the offensive line allowing the RB’s only 1.42 yards before contact collectively. In 2016 with power-blocking, the Raiders O-line allowed 1.9 yards before contact. This is fantastic news, as Gruden has historically deployed a power-blocking scheme — ideal for the absolute bruisers along the Raiders line. Moreover, new o-line coach Tom Cable worked with Lynch in Seattle, and, despite a history in zone schemes, Cable fully understands the concepts and assignments in which Lynch thrives. This one play displayed the gap-blocks and multiple blockers that Lynch has run wild with before. He rises For more on Gruden’s new-look offense, click here.
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