Dec 9, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) runs in a touchdown past Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Eagles won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Doug Martin was supposed to help fantasy owners win their league title in 2013. He burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2012 with the now epic four-touchdown game against the Oakland Raiders, putting up a ridiculous 1,454 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns over the course of his first NFL season.
Adding 49 receptions for 472 receiving yards and another score for good measure, Martin firmly engraved himself into the minds of fantasy owners everywhere as an elite RB1. Going into 2013, naturally, everyone thought the training wheels would come off and “The Muscle Hamster” would be freed from his cage.
The unleashing would be fabulous, to say the least. After all, Martin’s insane rookie tear really spanned over just half of the season, and the other half he appeared to be held back by the coaching staff.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned in 2013. The value didn’t meet the hype. Martin was both ineffective at times and banged up, ultimately sitting out the final 10 games of the season thanks to a torn labrum.
While last year was a clear downer, Martin is still the same elite talent with a huge role. Fantasy owners will likely be a little tentative about assigning him to their team as an elite RB1 and first round pick again, but should they actually hesitate?
Let’s break down Martin from all aspects as we try to figure out what to expect out of him this year in fantasy football:
The good news about 2013 is that Martin had at least 20 carries in each of his four games. He wasn’t wanting for touches. In fact, in terms of total touches, he actually had the ball in his hands at least 20 total times in each of his first fives games and probably would have made it a sixth had he not gotten hurt in week seven (12 touches).
It’s true that Martin wasn’t quite as dazzling last year as he was in 2012, but not all of that was his fault. Josh Freeman was enduring an epic free fall from a once promising quarterback to one that seemingly doesn’t belong in the league anymore, Greg Schiano was doing his best to ruin a strangely competitive team and the matchups weren’t exactly easy.
Still, Martin was able to drop a nice 144 rushing yards on an improving Saints defense, managed 65 rushing yards and a score against a tough Jets defense and hung 108 total yards on the Patriots.
He got shut down by a good Arizona defense and couldn’t finish his game versus the Falcons due to his shoulder injury.
As bad as everyone wants to make Martin’s 2013 out to be, he actually averaged 4.2 yards per carry or higher in four of his six games and at least scored a touchdown in one of the two that he didn’t.
The reality is, his entire situation didn’t help him in the least. Then he got hurt, which was a freak injury in itself. Martin’s torn labrum came on an awkward pass deep down the field, where he contorted his body in such a manner that it’s at least mildly surprising he only tore one ligament.
Heading into 2014, he’s completely healthy, has a much better coaching staff headed by Lovie Smith, has a competent quarterback under center in Josh McCown and some solid rookies coming in to help open up the offense. There’s a ridiculous amount of optimism to be had here.
ADP and Overall Value
Hype, optimism and potential can’t really be weighed, but if they could, Martin would weight about 400 pounds. Chances are his 5’9” frame couldn’t handle that mass, but given his athleticism, you just never know.
All jokes aside, the guy already had immense ability and every possible aspect around him has improved greatly. The only thing that can prevent him from a return to his rookie numbers (or at least close to it) would be another catastrophic injury or McCown doing a complete face-plant. However, even if that happened, you’d imagine Martin would still have a crazy role and produce at a high level, anyways.
It’s worth noting that Lovie Smith has been on teams that have thrived with versatile backs like Martin, as Matt Forte and Marshall Faulk have both gone to town on opposing defenses in Chicago and St. Louis when Smith was there. He’s a defensive guy first, to be sure, but he likes to run the ball and keep a balanced offense.
Needless to say, Martin is going to see the ball a lot. Add that all together, and what do you get?
How about a former top-three pick sliding into the second round? I struggle to see why fantasy owners are scared off of Martin so easily, yet the clearly older and much more fragile Arian Foster is still being taken two picks earlier on average.
I suspect The Muscle Hamster’s value will increase as the summer ticks away, but if it doesn’t, the lucky fantasy owners who plucks him off the board at the top of round two is going to be quite happy with his elite RB1.