Doug Martin is a one-hit wonder in the realm of fantasy football, and that's not such a bad thing.
The former Boise State star is just 25 years old, but his reign of terror in 2012 is the only time owners will see him produce at such a clip. From a very human standpoint, that is great news for Martin as he hopes to have a lengthy, lucrative career.
Owners have already made the necessary adjustments, which can be seen by his 3.03 average draft position, placing him outside of the top 10.
Do not be too shocked, though, when that ADP begins to swell thanks to the news that No. 69 overall pick Charles Sims will miss three or more months after ankle surgery, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times:
Sims was, after all, a third-round pick by a new regime led by head coach Lovie Smith. Martin was the byproduct of a crusade gone awry.
But with the talented rookie out of the picture for the time being, it is only logical to think Martin will see increased usage.
Not really. The team wants to limit the touches Martin sees next season, and believe it or not, the Buccaneers actually have one of the deeper backfields in the NFL. The plan all along, as Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com notes, has been more of a committee approach:
Under [Greg] Schiano, the Bucs often overused Martin. That’s not going to be the case with [Lovie] Smith. The Bucs have made it clear that Martin will remain as the feature back but that they’ll rotate in some other backs to keep him fresh. Rookie Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James could be in the mix for playing time.
So, no, owners simply cannot expect 2012 production—the year Martin tied for second overall in terms of scoring at his position—once again. Those numbers are merely a thing of the past:
Those 2012 numbers are in the neighborhood of 23 touches per game, a number that might be reduced to as low as 16.
Bobby Rainey and Mike James are not exactly horrible change-of-pace options while Sims recovers.
The former is a versatile back who can catch the ball well enough and gained 566 yards on 150 rushes last year.
The latter has received an endorsement from Smith himself, who also reiterated to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com that a committee approach has been in the pipeline since he was hired:
I saw from last year, [he is a] good football player. Good size. Of course, that injury [last season] kind of set him back a little bit. But he’s one of our running backs. We’ve made it known that we’re going to play more than one. You need a lot. In order for us to be a good running football team, we need to have more than one good player, and we feel like we have at least about four that we feel like if we went into a game with them, we could have a good running game.
James averaged 4.9 yards per carry and more than four yards per reception in just nine games last season, so the resume is somewhat there.
It is also important to understand that Sims is but one aspect of a horrific situation that has not changed much. Smith got his guy in quarterback Josh McCown, who is now 35 years old and had one miracle season under quarterback guru Marc Trestman in Chicago.
McCown went out in the team's first preseason game and completed just two passes, fumbled twice and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
If that is how next year is set to unfold, Martin is going to see stacked boxes on every single down.
More concerning is the offensive line, though. Left tackle Anthony Collins is a quality starter but has never had to hold down the spot for an entire season. He gave up massive pressure on one of the two sacks on McCown in preseason.
Next to him is Oniel Cousins, who ranked 71st among 81 guards in the NFL last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Or as Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com put it during Cousins' preseason Week 1 performance:
At center is Evan Dietrich-Smith, the only bright spot and a veteran tasked with keeping the hodgepodge cast together. The right guard is Jamon Meredith, who ranked 64th on the list of 81. The right tackle is Demar Dotson, who ranks well enough but excels in pass-blocking rather than the ground game.
Also keep in mind that the Buccaneers play in the NFC South, one of the NFL's most competitive divisions.
There is no doubt Carolina will once again be among the league's best defenses. Meanwhile, Atlanta is undergoing a schematic change and should be better, as should the Saints as the defense heads into its second year under Rob Ryan and just landed safety Jairus Byrd.
Really, all of this assumes that Martin is still the type of back who can overcome a poor offensive line. He tore a shoulder labrum last year, and what we saw from him in six games was quite mediocre at best—especially in the passing game.
But what should stand out most is his per-carry average, which dipped from 4.6 in 2012 to 3.6 before the injury.
Those two factors fit a little too perfectly with the plan of new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who admitted to Stroud that he favors a committee approach to prevent exactly what happened to Martin last season:
I think you have to alternate. Even when we had two, 1,000-yard rushers [at California], J.J. Arrington was a 2,000-yard rusher and and we had a couple times guys had a thousand yards apiece. But I don't believe that one back can carry the load. It's just too physical. I think you probably need to have two to three guys to bring different things to the table.
Martin is not horrific in the passing game, even though he appeared so last year. But if Tedford can put in a back who specializes in that area and keep Martin healthy at the same time, why wouldn't he?
The blunt truth is that Martin is not that rare breed such as Adrian Peterson who can do it all on his own. From a purely strategic perspective, he doesn't need to be either. Fantasy owners would enjoy if he was, but that is not how this whole arrangement works.
This does not imply owners should avoid Martin. Quite the contrary, actually. He will still see the lion's share of totes, but go in with the understanding that Sims' injury means very little.
Martin is still going to see a major reduction in touches under a new coaching staff on a bad unit, and the injury factor is more prevalent with him than most backs in the ADP top 15.
His ADP will rise, but the third round is where owners should keep grabbing him. Any higher and the return on investment gets all the riskier.
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