Feeding the beast
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - I don't know for sure but I have a feeling Marshawn Lynch is hiding something from us.

My theory? Marshawn Lynch has Marshawn Lynch on his fantasy team.

The signs are all there.

Think back to last week's game against Atlanta. Seattle had a commanding lead in the fourth quarter and head coach Pete Carroll had already taken Lynch out of the game.

At that point, we all assumed the rest of Lynch's day would consist of eating Skittles and watching Robert Turbin get a few garbage time reps. Seattle would win easily and fantasy owners would have to settle for the 13 points Lynch produced in the first three quarters.

All in all, not a bad day, right? Thirteen points is a perfectly respectable total for any fantasy halfback.

But the Beast was hungry. He wanted more. And by god, if Pete Carroll wasn't going to give it to him, he'd go out there and take it for himself.

So after a brief exchange with Carroll (I assume Lynch borrowed the famous Breaking Bad quote, "We're done when I say we're done!"), Lynch was back out there for first and goal at the 8-yard line. Two plays later, Lynch was in the end zone celebrating his eighth touchdown of the season.

Pretty bizarre, right? And that came just a few weeks after cameras caught Lynch extending a finger (hint: it's the one they blur out on television) to the Seahawks sideline following the team's decision to throw the ball on third and goal from the one-yard line.

Nobody in the NFL seems to be as fiercely protective of their own fantasy standing as Lynch, a 27-year-old Cal-Berkeley product with three Pro Bowl appearances. But who are we to complain?

If Lynch really did draft himself in fantasy, he must have a pretty good team. Few running backs in the league have been as productive as Beast Mode this season. With a little luck, he could become the first player to reach 1,000 yards rushing in 2013. Right now, he's 61 yards back of Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy for the league-lead.

We're well past fluke at this point. Lynch is one of the game's premier offensive threats and has been for some time. Since the start of 2011, only one rusher has amassed more yards on the ground than Lynch (3,665 yards in 41 contests). That rusher is last year's league MVP, Adrian Peterson (3,853 yards). Ironically, Peterson was the only running back considered better than Lynch coming out of high school in 2004.

For Lynch, the West Coast really has been his best coast. He had his moments in Buffalo but those four years in Western New York were nothing compared to what he's accomplished in the Emerald City.

In 53 games for Seattle (he was traded there in 2010), Lynch has averaged just under 80 rushing yards per game. He only averaged 61 and a half during his tenure with the Bills. None of his seasons in Buffalo included double-digit touchdowns, a feat he's accomplished in each of his last two for the Seahawks.

Lynch wasn't much of a receiving option in his first few seasons but that's quickly changing. He's caught at least one pass in seven straight games and is now on pace for 341 receiving yards, which would be a career-high. Lynch's yards per reception average (9.7) is the highest it's been since his rookie season.

A closer look at Seattle's rushing breakdown reveals that Lynch has received 57.9 percent of the team's carries this season. That's actually a little low when you compare him to other top backs. For example, Peterson has gotten 82.4 percent of his team's rushes while 63.8 percent of the Eagles' hand-offs have gone to McCoy. Even Alfred Morris, who doesn't seem to be getting goal line work, is seeing about a 59 percent usage rate.

Thankfully, that percentage is meaningless because Seattle runs the ball more than any other team. Indeed, the 330 rushing attempts the Seahawks have logged this season are easily the most in the NFL. The Seahawks have opted to run the ball 55.5 percent of the time while the rest of the league has called for runs on just 42.6 percent of its plays.

Because of that, you'll never see a Marshawn Lynch owner complaining about a lack of carries. What they might complain about, though, is Seattle's upcoming schedule.

Turns out, it's not all roses and butterflies for No. 24. If we're looking ahead to the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 14-16, all three of Seattle's games are against teams currently ranked in the top-12 in run defense.

Even more distressing is that two of those contests will be held away from CenturyLink Field, where Lynch has averaged 92.3 rushing yards per game this season (he's only averaged 83.7 ypg in Seattle's six road games). In fantasy, Lynch has averaged over 7 ppg more at home (18.8) than he has on the road (11.5).

But again, how flawless is your fantasy team that getting ONLY 11.5 ppg from Lynch would really hinder your team's chances? Nine rushers in the league are producing at that level right now and remember, this is only a worst case scenario. The last time Lynch competed against the 49ers, arguably the toughest team left on Seattle's schedule, he went off for 135 yards (98 rushing, 37 receiving) and three touchdowns.

Simply put, Lynch is a beast. But I guess you already knew that.

By the way, Marshawn, good luck in your fantasy playoffs. Your secret is safe with us.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.