One of the NFL’s most powerful running backs was dealt a brutal blow of his own following Week 6 of the 2018 season. Oakland Raiders veteran Marshawn Lynch, who’s made a career of running over opponents, has been placed on injured reserved with a groin strain. The news casts an even darker cloud over a Raiders team currently in dysfunction.
But going beyond the impact on fans and the team itself, it’s also grabbed the attention of the fantasy football world. With Lynch’s season potentially over, many fantasy owners jumped on the waiver wire and added either Doug Martin or Jalen Richard. And the debate between those two has been a hot-button topic over the past week.
The Raiders had their bye after a Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, meaning many fantasy owners likely overlooked Martin and/or Richard last week. But whether you already have one of the two backs or are looking on waivers, there’s no question one name has a higher upside than the other.
And the player to target, specifically in point-per-reception leagues, is Jalen Richard.
Fantasy Football Outlook for Raiders RB Jalen Richard
There’s no question Martin is likely going to see the bigger increase in snaps over Richard, but that’s primarily due to the fact that he was being out-snapped by his backfield mate by a wide margin. As Football Outsiders shows, Richard played 51 percent of the offensive snaps compared to 40 and 11 percent for Lynch and Martin in Week 5. He followed that up by receiving 40 percent of the snaps in Week 6 compared to 10 percent for Martin.
But even beyond the actual workload, Richard has been the better player and it’s safe to say the Raiders need their best players on the field consistently right now. The team is 1-5 and have found themselves playing from behind in recent weeks. In turn, this has led to the 25-year-old back totaling 31 catches for 253 yards through six games.
Although Martin’s 27 carries trump Richard’s 11 on the year, Lynch’s absence means there’s an average of 15 carries and 2.5 receptions per game up for grabs. Obviously, not all of that work will go to one player, so both players will see their workloads increase.
Based on the potential for more carries, targets and additional playing time, Richard’s upside is far superior to Martin’s. I’m fine targeting either player in fantasy football, but the pass-catching back is my preferred option with Lynch sidelined.