Doug Martin: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Back's Fantasy Value for 2012

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIJuly 16, 2012

TAMPA, FL -  MAY 4: Running back Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes upfield during a rookie practice at the Buccaneers practice facility May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images


When one thinks of the Boise State Broncos over the last few years, images of quarterback Kellen Moore slinging passes in a "gimmick" offense may come to mind.

The best player that the team may produce, however, is the guy who pounded the ball between the tackles—Doug Martin.

As a running back for the Broncos, Martin tallied over 1,200 yards in each of his last two seasons on a total of over 400 carries.

This first-round draft pick is a hot topic in many fantasy football circles, for he may garner the starting role in Tampa Bay and get the lion's share of catches and carries out of the backfield for new coach Greg Schiano.

Schiano, who typically doesn't split carries between two different running backs, has no connection to incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount. In fact, one may recall Schiano hinting that Blount's fumble woes will lead to the former Oregon Duck riding the bench in 2012.

From a pure numbers standpoint (and I realize that Blount played in the NFL and Martin in a below-average college conference, so take these stats for what they're worth), Blount's fumble-per-carry average is double that of Martin's.

With that in mind, Schiano may be inclined to give Martin the ball and tab the former Boise State rusher as Tampa Bay's featured running back.

All of that considered, think back to when Schiano had another all-purpose running back at Rutgers named Ray Rice. Schiano designed a very clever offensive scheme to get Rice the ball as a rusher and pass catcher.

As a junior (his final season in college before declaring for the NFL), Rice got 380 (380!) carries for 2012 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Not to say that Doug Martin is Ray Rice, but Schiano has a track record of loading up carries on a running back and designing clever blocking schemes to get that rusher in space.

It would make sense to conjecture that Schiano will name Martin as the feature back and give him a high number of touches.

The Buccaneers just signed Carl Nicks to play guard and already have solid starters like Donald Penn and Davin Joseph along the offensive line. A tough, between-the-tackles rusher, Martin could have a field day running behind this line for an entire season.

I'm setting the odds as very good that Doug Martin captures the starting job going into 2012. As mentioned before, Schiano has no connection to LeGarrette Blount, but he does have a connection to Doug Martin in that the first-year coach drafted the latter in the first round.

Also, realize that the Buccaneers don't play against very good rushing defense all season (save for a Week 2 matchup against the Giants, who are more of a pass-rushing team anyway).

When considering their opponents, realize that the Buccaneers probably won't get blown out in a majority of their games. Save for their NFC East matchups, their schedule is not terribly difficult. The Bucs should have the opportunity to run the ball a lot in 2012.

All signs point to Doug Martin being a top-notch rusher this coming season. He'll probably slide down fantasy draft boards (with players leery of the Blount situation or just scared to draft a rookie), so make sure you nab this guy when the time is right.

I predict Martin gets 230-240 carries and around 1,100 yards with around 8-10 touchdowns. He'll be a factor in the passing game too, so look for this back to bring in 35 or so catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

When whipping out the fantasy calculator (standard format, one point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving and six points for every touchdown), Martin puts up about 200 fantasy points. This would rank him among the top seven running backs in the league. 

I'm high on Martin for 2012 and he seems like he'll be a great fit for a struggling Tampa Bay team. Look for Greg Schiano to make this running back a fantasy star.

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