There is no community in the world as fickle as fantasy football owners. Players who are pariahs one week may be named saviors the next and vice versa. Just look at how low everyone is on Tom Brady this year after a mediocre 2013 season.
Doug Martin was a consensus top-five RB and a first-round pick last year after an amazing rookie season in which he compiled over 1,900 combined yards and 12 total TDs. Now after struggling in 2013 and playing only six games due to a torn labrum in his shoulder, Martin’s ADP has dropped into the second round of mock drafts.
I don’t think his current situation warrants even a second-round draft pick in 2014. Martin’s shoulder injury actually doesn’t worry me, as it wasn’t a lower body injury that would have nagging effects on his speed and explosiveness. I’m also optimistic about the QB situation, as both Josh McCown and Mike Glennon proved to be more than capable of running an offense last year.
The main concern I have is how the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff plan to use Martin in the backfield. Jeff Tedford, Tampa Bay’s new offensive coordinator, recently spoke to the media and said that he doesn’t “believe that one back can carry the load. It’s just too physical.” Tedford also used multiple RBs during his time as head coach at the University of California.
Many people are overreacting to this comment, but Martin’s value does take a hit, particularly in PPR leagues. During Martin’s 2012 season, he had 49 receptions for almost 500 yards. Assuming he comes off the field for passing downs and is replaced by Mike James or Charles Sims, Martin could lose significant production as nearly a quarter of his points in 2012 came from receiving yards.
More importantly, Martin’s total carries will probably decrease even if he is the main rusher for the Buccaneers. Martin had a solid 4.6 rushing YPC in 2012, but this went down to 3.6 YPC in 2013 through six games. However, three of these games were with Josh Freeman under center, and two of these were against the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, two very good run defenses. Martin actually averaged about 4.5 YPC in the other four games he played.
While he did have some success as a runner in 2013 despite what the majority of people think, the problem again circles back to usage. Martin saw 319 carries in 2012, and it’s unlikely that he sees that many again in 2014. Even if he does see the bulk of the rushing downs and keeps his YPC high, his fellow RBs will take some carries away as well as quite a few receptions.
At the end of the day, there are just too many uncertainties for me to trust Martin as my RB1 this year. I think he’ll perform admirably in 2014, but I’m personally staying away from him until at least the third round to have him as my RB2. There’s the old adage that you can’t win your season in the first two rounds, but you can definitely lose it. Apply this to Martin.