Thomas Rawls caught all of our imaginations last season as he stepped in and seamlessly took over for Marshawn Lynch, right up until his ankle injury took him out for the rest of the season. It was supposed to be a quick and easy fix, and then it wasn’t. Rawls missed nearly all of the training tramp and the preseason, and he still was very highly drafted this fantasy football draft season and was RB14 and #35 overall by ADP. Unfortunately, Rawls will not return that draft value for you early in the season, and especially against Miami.
First, Pete Carroll came out and said that Rawls was going to be in on a rotational basis. He has to be eased back into game shape this preseason, and will be treating it as “his second preseason game.” That means that Rawls will likely be limited to 10-15 carries in the first game of the season. Rawls is electric, and could do a good amount of damage on those 10-15 carries, but those carries will likely be only a few at a time, not allowing Rawls to get a full head of steam into them. He’s also coming off his injury, which means his conditioning likely won’t be up to snuff. Christine Michael will be getting the majority of the carries, and for a back that is coming off injury, you don’t want to be taking the short side of the platoon.
There’s also the situation working against Rawls. He already was a two-down back, with C.J. Prosise brought in to fill the Fred Jackson role as the pass-catching back. There will be little opportunity for cheap yardage for Rawls (through the air) because that’s Prosise’s role, and Rawls isn’t great passing down back anyway. Second, if they’re working Rawls in, it’s unlikely he gets more than a couple of goal-line touches (if any at all) since they don’t want an errant twist of the ankle in the pile.
Finally, the game script. Seattle is likely to blow the doors off the Dolphins, and given the defensive back situation versus the ridiculous defensive line, they are likely to do that through the air. That means that the Seahawks are likely to be taking slow, methodical drives to keep the ball away from the Dolphins. Again, these carries will revert to Michael as the Seahawks run out the clock.
Rawls showed impressively in a partial season but does not have the pedigree to hold off Christine Michael. While he may be working back this week, it’s entirely possible that Michael grabs the load and rips it from Rawls’ hands. While it’s ill-advised to start Rawls this week, it may be the beginning of a downward slope that ends with you not starting Rawls at all. Rawls owners should be warned.