First Down: The ladies, bargain shoppers dig Marshawn Lynch

Brad Evans
September 2, 2009

Every preseason, whether related to injury or insubordinate behavior, a player's value nosedives simply because the fantasy masses are afraid to chase the river. To the conservative drafter, the mere thought of not employing a player's services for X weeks is a complete waste. Last year, Carolina face redecorator Steve Smith's ADP slipped after the team levied a two-game suspension on the superstar. This season, the perceived values of Brandon Marshall(notes) and Matt Cassel(notes) have plummeted similarly.

But for the thrifty, Buffalo's Marshawn Lynch(notes) might be the prettiest penny of the discounted lot.

Plucked off the clearance rack by savvy owners, the quirky, multi-functional rusher, whose three-game suspension for a weapons conviction was upheld by Warden Goodell in early August, has been drafted on average at pick 47.49 (RB23) according to Mock Draft Central, around the same time as suspect products Derrick Ward(notes), Larry Johnson(notes) and Joseph Addai(notes).

If Lynch wasn't cheerleading on the sidelines for roughly 23 percent of the fantasy regular season, he surely would've been a second, not a fourth, round selection in 12-team leagues. Drafted routinely at the turn last August, his numbers in '08 improved over his rookie campaign. In 15 contests, he totaled 1,336 yards and nine scores, averaging an appreciable 12.6 fantasy points per game, the 15th-best mark among plowshares. His 47 receptions, the same number as "Leprechaun" Leon Washington(notes), boosted his worth even more in PPR formats.

Lynch is an intimidating mix of power and speed who added 15 pounds of bulk to his already husky frame during the offseason. Unquestionably, he will thrive in Turk Schonert's retooled offense. Loosely reminiscent of the K-Gun, the new no-huddle, spread scheme meshes terrifically with Beast Mode's all-around abilities. Though he's averaged just 2.7 yards per carry in preseason action, he's shown vibrant flashes (i.e. 16-yard run versus Pittsburgh) within the revamped system. According to impressed insiders, he also exhibited "outstanding quickness and burst" in training camp.

Naysayers will argue Buffalo's ongoing issues against 3-4 defenses and Fred Jackson's(notes) presumed expanded role are major deterrent for selecting Lynch. Although the former is a concern, the nagging soreness in the backup's sprained left thumb and wrist could potentially plague him the entire season, possibly curtailing his touches.

Lynch might be the byproduct of a Rick James drugged-out-his-mind tryst with Otis Nixon's female duplicate, but the "little green dude" admirer is, in fantasy terms, quite a handsome acquisition in Round 4-5.

Fearless Forecast (13 games): 255 carries, 1,071 rushing yards, 39 receptions, 264 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns

Where did you select Lynch? What are your expectations this season? Are you salavating at his Week 14 matchup with Kansas City as much as the Noise? Discuss below.

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