The Kansas City Chiefs dodged a bullet earlier this week by giving star RB Jamaal Charles a two-year, $18.1 million contract extension after he threatened to hold out from training camp. It seems that the Seattle Seahawks are now in a similar bind with Marshawn Lynch also expected to hold out from camp. So how should fantasy football owners react if Lynch and the Seahawks fail to reach an agreement?
Well, it’s likely that Lynch returns for the regular season even if he does avoid all of training camp as he’s due to earn $5.5 million in 2014. However, it is a possibility that he does not return, as teammates cited Lynch last year saying that he might retire if the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
The two more likely scenarios are as follows. One is that Lynch and the Seahawks come to an agreement on a contract extension, though sources report that the team is unlikely to budge from his current contract. The other probable outcome is that Lynch holds out to no avail but still returns in time to play Week 1.
RBs who have held out of training camp in recent years have gone on to have very disappointing fantasy seasons. After Chris Johnson held out in 2011, he had career lows in yardage and TDs. After Maurice Jones-Drew held out in 2012, he played in only six games before being placed on IR for the season.
Lynch is currently the seventh overall player being selected in mock drafts after racking up over 1,500 combined yards and 14 total TDs last season. The longer Lynch holds out, the more his fantasy stock will drop. However, as Lynch’s stock falls, Christine Michael’s stock is rising.
There have already been rumors floating around in the offseason that Michael will reportedly see more work in 2014. Even though Michael only had 18 carries in 2013, many were expecting him to surpass Robert Turbin on the depth chart to be Lynch’s backup. Now with news of the holdout, Michael’s value has never been higher.
In the unlikely situation that Lynch retires or does not return to play in the regular season, Michael would have a legitimate shot at being the starting RB in Seattle. Even if Lynch does return in time for Week 1, Michael may see a potential timeshare with Lynch.
At this point in the offseason, I wouldn’t risk drafting Lynch seventh overall. Even if he does eventually reach an agreement with the Seahawks, I’d be wary of drafting him until the early second round at best. However, the longer this holdout lasts, the more I’d be willing to reach for Michael in the later rounds.