Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch hasn’t fully recovered from a pesky hamstring injury that has hindered him all year. He missed Monday’s 13-10 win over the Detroit Lions and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to Stephen Cohen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Typically a fantasy stud, Lynch has been a disappointment this year. He has compiled just 128 yards with no touchdowns on 38 carries in the three games he’s played.
Seattle’s backfield was dealt another blow when Fred Jackson left the team’s Week 4 game with a high ankle sprain, leaving him questionable for Sunday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
The attrition has opened an opportunity for Thomas Rawls, an undrafted rookie who has churned out 152 yards (4.6 per carry) since Lynch left early against the Chicago Bears two weeks ago. Rawls will start against Cincinnati, according to Michael Fabiano of NFL.com, who also offered some fantasy insight on Seattle’s backfield shuffle:
Rawls has yet to reach the end zone and may face a challenge behind a struggling offensive line, but the rookie could be a viable flex option for those who are looking for a midseason Hail Mary. He’s owned in just 31.5 percent of standard ESPN.com fantasy leagues, and the Seahawks offense is predicated on the ground game.
Seattle has thrived with a balanced attack while not relying solely on quarterback Russell Wilson’s arm to win games. This year, however, Wilson is passing more (31.75 attempts per game, compared to last year’s career-high 28.25), and he’s already accounted for four turnovers in four games.
Bengals safety Chris Crocker noted to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Wilson’s success has been aligned with the strength of his backfield.
“He’s been a one-man wrecking crew. With the offensive line being kind of shattered and not a lot of guys playing well up front he’s really been the focal point of the offense,” Crocker said. “He’s quite impressive. The rest of the offense didn’t really do much, but if Marshawn Lynch plays he’ll be more effective.”
Lynch averaged 17.5 attempts per game in 2014 for 4.66 yards per carry. Rawls is seeing roughly the same workload, 33 attempts in two games since Lynch left, but posted only 48 yards against the Lions’ 19th-ranked run defense.
Wilson is the ninth-ranked quarterback in ESPN.com standard leagues and remains a QB1 commodity. But owners should observe how Wilson plays with a beleaguered backfield against a stingy Bengals defense that ranks sixth against the run.
The Bengals are allowing 15.3 points per game to both opposing quarterbacks and running backs, according to ESPN.com’s standard scoring.
Verdict: Start Wilson (projected for 16 points); sit Rawls (projected for six points).
Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com