Believe it or not, fantasy football draft season is coming soon. So in a few weeks when you start putting together your cheat sheets and preparing for draft day, you will likely be thinking about what Buccaneers you can put on your team, so you can feel less guilty than you would if you had Drew Brees or Steven Jackson on your roster.
So what if you have the first overall pick? You’re probably going to want to go with a running back if you’re in a league that uses standard scoring, so Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster seem like the best choices, and you’ll just have to wait another 20 picks until you come back up in the order. And while you could probably take Vincent Jackson in the second or third round, what if you wanted a more productive Buccaneer for your fantasy team?
You should take Doug Martin number one overall.
ESPN.com’s rankings currently have The Dougernaut fifth overall, behing the aforementioned Peterson and Foster, as well as Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch. And right off the bat, we have an issue. The Buccaneers’ first round pick in 2012 was the second best running back in fantasy in 2012, behind only Peterson, and he did so with a makeshift offensive line and some early competition from the unworthy LeGarrette Blount. He also did so on an offense led by a quarterback who was in the top 10 in attempts during the season, meaning running took a backseat to passing when the Buccaneers needed to play catchup.
So why on Earth would Martin be fifth? Foster is the product of a very good system, and when he’s healthy he’s good for yards and touchdowns that bring fantasy owners plenty of joy. Rice and Lynch are both the best players on their respective offenses, but Rice has to deal with competition from Bernard Pierce, while Marshawn Lynch has to deal with Russell Wilson‘s arm and legs taking plays away from him.
So how can Martin improve to the number one spot in 2013, and be worthy of the first pick in your draft? As we discussed earlier this offseason, Martin picked up during the middle of last season, and didn’t back off at all:
Martin also never showed signs of slowing down. Other than the blowout against the Saints, where many players were held out of action once the game was out of hand, Martin carried the ball at least 18 times every game from week seven on, and while his performance was a bit inconsistent thanks to the offense having to play catch up more often as the season wore on, he turned multiple impressive performances in the closing weeks, including a 142 yard rushing day on the closing day of the regular season against the Falcons.
If Martin continues on the pace he set over last 10 games of last season, he’ll be the most consistent player in fantasy outside of Adrian Peterson. Martin tallied 100 yards from scrimmage or at least one touchdown in each of his team’s final 10 games, barring the Saints game, as mentioned above. And while Peterson was impressive down the stretch, as well, he is now 28 years old and is coming off yet another offseason surgery, as he underwent an operation to repair a sports hernia. For an NFL running back, that’s a lot to go through and continue at an elite level, and while I refuse to doubt the ability of “All Day” to come back and be just as good, I feel safe with the youth and potential of Martin as well.
It has been said you don’t win your league with your first pick, but you can lose it. And while I don’t believe that selecting either of these excellent running backs would ruin your chances, the injury history for Peterson is longer than Martin’s, and the odometer on the Vikings’ runner has quite a few more miles on it. So while it’s possible that Adrian could have a dominant season and finish miles ahead of any other player, it’s also possible that a Percy Harvin-less Minnesota is just not the place for Peterson to shine, and that Doug Martin behind a healthy offensive line could outshine him and become a fantasy superstar.
So don’t hesitate to play it safe and be a homer by selecting Doug Martin first overall, and if you pick second, and the guy picking first takes Peterson, snatch up Martin and have confidence. Because while 2012 may have been a coming out party for Doug Martin, 2013 could be the year that he ascends to the top of the NFL running back rankings, and you don’t want to be the guy who has Arian Foster sitting on injured reserve while the guy with Doug Martin collects the winner’s check, do you?