The stars continue to align for Doug Martin.
A few weeks ago, I had him as one of my biggest busts in fantasy football. I wasn’t a fan of the offensive system, and thought that his miraculous rookie campaign was rather skewed by a few big games. I mean, over 50 of his total fantasy points came from that monster game against the Raiders. And while I’m still not crazy about Martin, especially as a running back one, recent events are causing me to change my stance on him.
Firstly, rookie runner Charles Sims suffered an ankle injury, sidelining him for 12-14 weeks. This is significant news, considering that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford recently stated that he doesn’t believe that just one back can carry the workload for an offense.
“I think you have to alternate,” Tedford told the Tampa Bay Times. “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.”
That quote scared plenty of fantasy owners off of Martin, including myself. If you look at Tedford’s track record as a play-caller, you notice that the majority of his offenses featured two backs that worked together.
Tedford’s lead back has received fewer than 60 percent of the team’s carries in eight of his 15 seasons calling the shots at both Oregon and California. That’s 53 percent of the time that his number one back failed to carry the ball at least 60 percent of the time in his offense. That worried me a lot a few weeks ago, and still does a bit. But with Sims out of action and Mike James is also dealing with a shoulder issue. And even if Tedford does alternate backs, it should 100 percent be Martin at the goal line, as he saw over 83 percent of Tampa Bay’s carries inside the red zone in 2012, the second-highest rate in the NFL. However, I wouldn’t expect him to catch a ton of passes in this offense, as Tedford never really used his running backs a whole lot in the passing game. Guys like Shane Vereen and Jahvid Best only had career-highs of 25 receptions under Tedford at Cal.
But I’m beginning to come around, especially after yesterday’s trade. The Bucs addressed their poor offensive line by dealing tight end Tim Wright to New England in exchange for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. This is great news for Martin’s prospects, as Mankins was the number-four ranked run-blocking guard last year, according to Pro Football Focus. After having Martin as my 21st running back, I’ve bumped him all the way up to the 12 spot, so I’m suddenly buying in a lot more than I once was.