After preparing this week’s article regarding the weekly fantasy value of your Green Bay Packers (which sent me back to make some edits), there was some significant news. Maybe you heard that the Packers added a running back. An odd set of circumstances allowed the Packers to add the Seattle Seahawks’ leading rusher for this season. What does this all mean for Christine Michael’s fantasy value?
Setting the Scene
Christine Michael has now been let go by the Seahawks twice. Last time, he was traded to Dallas, but he did not really take advantage of that opportunity. When Michael arrived he was in a competition with Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle. Michael ended up not starting any games and rushing just 15 times for 51 yards over five games. After Dallas released him last November, Michael spent a short time on Washington’s practice squad before going back to Seattle, where he managed to start two games and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
When Michael started off as a rookie in Seattle, he had some good success as a backup behind Marshawn Lynch. This ended up being mostly clean up duty and spelling Lynch. For his career, Michael has played in 31 games and only started nine. He has averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He is a stable back, but has not been much the lead back in most of his career.
The 2016 Season
Michael was the lead back in Seattle for the first time. He started seven of the nine games so far. The Seahawks have been more involved in throwing the ball and making Russell Wilson the centerpiece of their offense. As such, even though he averaged 4.0 yards per carry, Michael was only averaging 52.1 yards per game. Michael was valuable in close to the goal line as well as he found the end zone six times in nine games.
Michael’s release was set up by the growth of C.J. Prosise and also the return of Thomas Rawls. Seattle had some depth and wanted to start featuring younger backs. Coach Pete Carroll has also said that the Seahawks are interested in the development of Troymaine Pope.
Moving to the Packers
The biggest single positive for Michael is the sudden improvement he will see in the five men in front of him. Pro Football Focus has declared that the Seahawks are the single worst offensive line in football (and maybe the worst position group in football). The Packers have one of the better offensive lines (when healthy).
Michaels will likely find himself in a time share. After seeing Knile Davis make a complete no-show with his three game audition, I definitely take pause at the value of Michaels. Here are the differences I see making a difference. First off, Davis was a trade and if he had not been cut the Packers would have had to give up a draft pick. There’s no draft pick at stake here. Like Davis (and Lacy), Michael is a free agent at the end of this season. He has every incentive to make sure he can find a contract in the offseason. Further, unlike Davis, Michael has a history of not fumbling (knock on wood).
I would add Michael, stash him for now, and consider him as a potential future RB2. It might take a week to see real growth or inclusion in the offense, but the Packers will want to evaluate Michael going forward. James Starks is getting old and the Packers will likely want to weigh options with both Lacy and Michael in the offseason. He was still getting decent yards per carry behind a really bad line and now he will be asked to be more involved. He does not have RB1 value. Even with Lacy on the field getting over five yards per carry, the Packers never committed enough to the run to get Lacy into the RB1 level.