2013 was the year of the first round running back busts.
Whether it was C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice or Trent Richardson, half of the running backs selected in the first round fell flat on their face, including second-year bruiser, Doug Martin. It was going to be difficult for Martin to repeat his incredible rookie campaign where he finished as the third-best running back in fantasy football. However, injury and flat-out poor performances hindered his sophomore season. So, after a star-studded year and a poor one, what should fantasy owners be expecting out of Martin in year three?
Martin is an incredible talent, and for the time being, he is the starting running back on a Tampa Bay offense that is going to be very explosive this season. And, when he was healthy last year, he was basically a lock for 20 touches per game. Meanwhile, the Bucs offensive line is solid and Martin should serve as the goal line back, regardless of the fact that Lovie Smith is now the head coach in Tampa Bay. His running style is best-suited for the goal line role, and no one else on the roster is better for that situation. And let’s not just all of a sudden think his talent has completely vanished after one down year. He’s still pretty good.
Martin is coming off a shoulder injury, which is never a good sign for any player. There’s one negative. Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford does not have a friendly track record of utilizing running backs in the passing game during his time with California. Also, the team drafted rookie Charles Sims, who is an elite pass-catcher and Matt Forte clone. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Sims cut into Martin’s reception totals. During his collegiate career, Sims averaged almost 51 catches. They didn’t draft him to have him sit on the pine and watch. He’s going to play.
I’m not as high on Martin as others in the industry, but there is definitely a bounceback opportunity here. He’s a supreme talent and is a starting running back in the NFL, which is becoming rare nowadays. This year, you can get him for a discount, as he is going in the second round in the majority of leagues. Take him there, but don’t get cute and grab him in the first. There are safer options in front of him.
Bye Week: 7
Projected Round: 2nd
Auction Value: $48 (via ESPN)