RB Doug Martin took the fantasy football world by storm in 2012. After that impressive rookie season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, analysts and fans alike were projecting Martin to overcome Adrian Peterson as the definitive fantasy running back in 2013. Sadly — as is often the case — the hype was too much and his production was not worthy of a first-round pick, nor even a second-round selection.
Now, of course, he only played six games last season. But in that time table, he had fantasy owners on edge — only gathering 87 yards from scrimmage per contest, as opposed to his 2012 campaign of 120 yards per game. Along with that dip in yards, he only found the end zone during his first game. Needless to say, a sour taste has been left in the mouths of fantasy owners.
I’m here to say that you should ignore that feeling that he’ll disappoint. ESPN’s Matthew Berry has him pegged as the 12th ranked RB this offseason. That’s a fair appraisal, but “Muscle Hamster” could easily join the ranks in top five fantasy backs again this season. You can thank first-round pick Mike Evans for that.
Last season, the Bucs only had WR Vincent Jackson to rely on with the passing game thanks to another Tampa Bay player being sidelined: Mike Williams (whom is now with the Buffalo Bills). Between Jackson and Williams in 2012, they took in 135 receptions for over 2,300 yards. If that doesn’t take a defense’s eyes off the run game, I don’t know what will.
With Evans added to the arsenal, QB Josh McNown will now be able to pass the ball off to the nearly identical Jackson and Evans — taking pressure off the run game. Throw in their second-round pick of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and you have quite the arsenal to keep defenses on edge the entire game.
Of the top 10 running backs of 2013, six of them had a a teammate top 1,000 yards receiving and another to surpass 800 yards. On top of that, four also had a TE reach the 500-yard milestone. All of the accolades are completely in reach for the Bucs’ revamped air corps.
I’m expecting Evans to be the No. 1 rookie WR, taking in just over 800 yards and reaching the end zone eight times. Seferian-Jenkins will be a great target as well, seeing about 500 yards and six scores.
With their new additions and a new coach in Lovie Smith who had a good track record with running backs like Matt Forte with the Chicago Bears, Martin’s 3.7 yards per carry last season does not deter me in the least.
When any player breaks onto the scene, it’s typical for a drop in production to occur because opponents game plan better against their technique. Flip the equation now, and Martin has had more time to study the techniques of NFL defenses after sitting out the final 10 games of the season. He’s geared up and ready to go, and the Bucs front office’s offseason decisions are a great part of that.
Watch out, fantasy owners … Doug Martin and company are for real.