Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin had a big rookie season in 2012, with 1,454 rushing yards (fifth in the NFL) and 11 touchdowns along with 49 receptions for 472 yards and another touchdown. That made him very popular in fantasy football circles heading into the 2013 season, and he was ranked as highly as the No. 2 running back in some preseason publications.
But Martin had just 456 rushing yards (one 100-yard game) and one touchdown along with 12 receptions for 66 yards in the first six games of the season, and he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder and did not play the rest of the season. One positive was his workload, as he averaged over 25 touches per game in the five games he started and finished, so better health should equal a rebound in 2014. But should fantasy owners consider Martin a legit RB1 for next year?
Lovie Smith was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Buccaneers on Monday, and he already said he wants new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford to implement a run-oriented offense. Martin will be the centerpiece of that offensive approach as long as he is back at full strength, and he should be a prominent part of the passing game as well.
Mike James had 197 rushing yards in two full games after Martin was injured, but he went down with a broken left ankle and Bobby Rainey emerged as a solid fantasy option with 487 rushing yards and five total touchdowns over the final seven games of the season. With Martin back in place atop the depth chart and in line for all the touches he can handle, James and Rainey will not be on the radar of fantasy owners at the start of next season.
I thought Martin was extremely over-hyped heading into this season, and any fantasy owner that took him in the top-five of their draft or spent a truckload of auction money on him definitely agrees with me now. But I expect Martin to re-emerge as a high-end RB1 in all league formats in 2014, and a case could be made for him to be the first running back drafted in PPR leagues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.