Here are some mini-revelations off the Buccaneers' surprisingly easy 36-17 win over the Vikings on Thursday night:
1. So much for doubting Doug Martin against quality defenses, when playing on the road
The Tampa Bay rookie steamrolled Minnesota for 214 total yards (135 rushing) and two touchdowns—easily one of the three best fantasy outings of the season (among tailbacks).
It was also the official coming-out party for Martin, in terms of being an automatic starter in 12-team leagues (RB2 or flex) from this point forward, regardless of scoring rules.
As an aside, I'd like to pretend that Martin was higher on my board of Top 40 Tailbacks For Week 8...but in this techno-savvy age of web screengrabs, it's best to just shut up, admit defeat and humbly take my medicine.
2. The Vikings defense can no longer be deemed 'elite' against the run
When Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III racked up 320 total yards (138 rushing) and three touchdowns on Oct. 14, I didn't throw a lot of blame the Vikings' way. After all, Griffin is a freak of nature, and his game-clinching, 76-yard touchdown run didn't occur until the waning moments of that game.
And when Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling netted 145 total yards (104 rushing) and one TD against Minnesota last week, I figured it as a consequence of the Vikings' grand plan of mass-blitzing QB John Skelton and rolling coverages toward receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
But Martin's monster night changed everything, so much that the Vikings' dominance-against-the-run for Weeks 2 through 5 (70 yards per game) has become a fading memory.
By extension, I see great things for Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and Detroit's Mike Leshoure in Weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
3. Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder had totally different experiences from their nearly identical stats
**Freeman and Ponder each completed 19 passes.
**Both QBs had completion percentages in the low- to mid-50s.
**Freeman had 261 total yards...and Ponder totaled 263 yards (251 passing).
And yet, Freeman easily had the better fantasy outing, tossing a touchdown in each of the first three quarters (Erik Lorig, Mike Williams, Doug Martin). Ponder, in turn, only accounted for one score, hitting Percy Harvin on an 18-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Last week, remember how Freeman notched 300 total yards in back-to-back games for the first time in his four-year career?
Well, on Thursday, he became the first Bucs QB since Vinny Testaverde (1989) to pass for three or more touchdowns in three consecutive games.
Looking ahead to Week 9, Freeman has earned the right to start in 12-team leagues (against the Raiders), but the same cannot be said about Ponder against the Seahawks.
4. It's rare for another back to obscure Adrian Peterson in a 1-on-1 battle, especially when AP rolls for big yardage
Doug Martin logged 32 touches (29 rushes) for 214 yards and a per-touch average of 6.69 yards.
On the flip side, Peterson needed only 16 touches to earn 127 total yards (123 rushing), with a per-touch average of 7.93 yards.
Let the above stats stand as Exhibit A for why fantasy owners should not spend a lot of time researching their lineups, leading up to the Thursday/Sunday/Monday slate of games.
Very few experts had the 5-2 Vikings falling to the 2-4 Bucs at home.
And even a smaller subset of NFL enthusiasts had Tampa Bay tabbed for a 19-point rout...with Martin doubling Peterson's overall touches.
The message here: We're powerless against the scoreboard gods. So please, don't overthink the lineups.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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