Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson's Fantasy Outlook After Josh Freeman's Release

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 3, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 and Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate after Martin scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are shaking up their roster after an 0-4 start, and it could have major fantasy football implications for owners who count on running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Vincent Jackson on a regular basis. 

Spoiler alert: Both players are still worth a spot on your roster. 

Tampa Bay released quarterback Josh Freeman on Thursday afternoon, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and's Ian Rapoport:

Freeman was recently listed in a curious report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen connecting him to "stage one" of the NFL's drug program for a prescription medication he takes on a temporary-use exemption basis. 

He had a 24-35 record as a starter for the Buccaneers, and was also recently demoted down the depth chart in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. Based on Freeman's release, the Bucs will now move forward with Glennon as the starter and Dan Orlovsky as his backup. 

Mike Glennon
Mike GlennonScott Iskowitz/Getty Images

Martin and Jackson, easily the two best players head coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan still have to work with on offense, are the stars who will potentially be affected the most long-term by this decision. 

Judging from Tampa Bay's offensive strategy against Arizona in Week 4, it might be a change for the better.

Based on stats alone, it would be panic time for Martin and Jackson owners. 

But digging deeper, one can see that the Buccaneers leaned heavily on Martin and Jackson against the Cardinals, even though the latter was dealing with a serious rib injury and was a game-time decision to play. As noted by Rapoport, Jackson showed major toughness to even be on the field:

But he was, and got the most looks in the passing game to boot. Glennon threw the ball 43 times against Arizona, and Jackson was the recipient of a team-high 11 targets. He finished with two catches for 27 yards and no touchdowns. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 8:   Vincent Jackson #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs the ball against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

With a rookie quarterback in place, there's two sides to the Jackson coin. 

On one hand, you would expect Glennon to live and die by his top target's production each week. ESPN's Stats & Info notes that one way the Buccaneers might try to revive their offense moving forward is by trusting Jackson as a down-the-field threat:

If the overall talent is evidence enough, the 11 targets during their first game together should help show that Glennon is going to lean heavily on Jackson when he drops back to pass. 

On the flip side, Glennon is a rookie. He will make mistakes, and it's reasonable to expect him to struggle with accuracy, pocket presence and situational passing over Tampa Bay's final 12 games. Those factors affect production from receivers and can lead to an unfavorable situation for fantasy owners. 

At worst, Jackson is a viable flex option the rest of the way. If things continue to trend in the direction they did against Arizona, I would consider him a WR2 in virtually all formats. The rib injury figures to limit Jackson for at least one more game, but when he's 100 percent, Jackson could finish the year as a borderline WR1. 

Martin finished with only 61 yards of total offense against Arizona, but it wasn't for lack of trying. He had 27 carries, caught three passes out of the backfield and was targeted four times by Glennon en route to 30 total touches. 

Owners of the former Boise State star have little to complain about through four weeks, as this tweet from's Jeff Darlington suggests:

One valid complaint is his lack of touchdowns, though, a situation that Anwar Richardson of Yahoo! Sports discusses here on Twitter:

While teams might take an Adrian Peterson approach to Tampa Bay's offense by stacking more defenders in the box and forcing Glennon to beat them, Martin is clearly still going to get his touches. 

Only a second-year pro, he's still figuring out how to handle extra pressure of carrying an offense, but the Buccaneers clearly trust him to do just that based on his high usage rate in a close game against the Cardinals. 

Sep 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (91) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Arizona Cardinals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10. Mand
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite obvious struggles and internal turmoil concerning his QB, Martin had double-digit scoring outputs in ESPN standard leagues in each of his first three games. He also leads the NFL in carries with 100—eight more than fantasy all-star Peterson. 

Martin is still an above-average RB2. As the offense adjusts to Glennon and Martin continues to adapt to opposing defenses, there's a great chance his fantasy production will start to match the workload he's currently receiving. 

Tampa Bay has a bye in Week 5. Don't forget to put Martin and Jackson on your bench over the weekend, but promptly reinsert them into your starting lineup in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles—currently the NFL's worst team in total defense. 

There will be an adjustment period before Jackson and Martin return to fantasy stardom, but don't forsake the duo just yet. 


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