This week, the NFL's two most impressive active streaks in will be at risk in Seattle, when the Seahawks host the Niners. Marshawn Lynch has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last 10 games; San Francisco's defense hasn't allowed a rushing score all season.
On Saturday, one of these streaks will probably (but not necessarily) come to an end. Sure, Lynch could find the end zone as a receiver, but he's only done it twice in his five-year career. He's been an absolute monster in short-yardage this season, as effective as any back in the league, and he's excelled in difficult match-ups. Check the totals against Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago.
As Niners corner Carlos Rogers recently said of Marshawn, "He's running like he just got out of jail."
But even that statement doesn't adequately describe Lynch's season, because there are guys in the league who literally did just get out of jail, and they aren't nearly this good.
Still, he's a brutal player to rank this week. There are no worries about workload with Lynch, as he hasn't seen fewer than 20 carries in any of his last seven games. But, again, the Niners have been ridiculously great — historically great — against the run. Patrick Willis is sidelined, true, but Larry Grant has been terrific in relief. San Francisco has allowed just 3.25 yards per carry to opposing running backs, only 10.3 total fantasy points per game, and 826 rushing yards. The league's next-best defense has allowed 1,113 yards. Six different NFL teams — Cleveland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Carolina — have given up over 1,700 rushing yards to opposing backs.
So yeah, the Niners are tough. And Lynch is tough, too. This is a serious rankings dilemma, in the most important weekend of the fantasy season.
Here's a snapshot of the 10-20 range on my RB board for Week 16...
10. CJ Spiller vs. Den
11. Reggie Bush at NE
12. Frank Gore at Sea
13. DeAngelo Williams vs. TB
14. Willis McGahee at Buf
15. Marshawn Lynch vs. SF
16. LeGarrette Blount at Car
17. Shonn Greene vs. NYG
18. Felix Jones vs. Phi
19. Darren Sproles vs. Atl
20. Cedric Benson vs. Ari
...but I may shuffle that group a time or two before we publish.
If Lynch has carried your team to the championship round, then it's awfully tough to send him to the bench right now. Still, many of you are facing a Spiller-vs.-Lynch decision, or DeAngelo-vs.-Lynch, or Blount-vs.-Lynch. Those are agonizing calls, likely to cost you sleep and kill your workplace productivity. (Sorry, corporations. It's title week. Can't be helped).
Let's settle this thing the way all great American debates are resolved: via web poll and blog comments. Please give us your spin below, in the box provided...