If the troubled and talented Buccaneers running back can stay on the straight and narrow path he could become one of 2017’s great fantasy football bargains.
I don’t know about you, but I like to start my fantasy football prep early. Some years’ it’s begun immediately after the Super Bowl ends, others after the draft is completed. Most years however I try to act like a semi-sane person and at least wait until June. This is one of those years, and one of the first things to jump out at me as I started my research was the value of Buccaneers running back Doug Martin.
On ESPN, Martin is ranked as the 102nd overall player, and the 41st running back, behind the likes of James White, Giovani Bernard, and Robert Kelley. If you ask Yahoo, Martin is the 47th running back in fantasy football this season (per Yahoo mock draft app). Multiple big boards from CBS place Martin in the 60’s or 70’s of their overall 100 players.
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
There is of course good reason for Martin’s low rank and his apparent bargain-bin fantasy value. Martin was held back by injuries and personal demons last season and could only muster 421 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. It was Martin’s third season in the last four in which he finished with less than 500 yards rushing. On top of all that, Martin must complete the final three games of a four game suspension that he received last season. This makes Martin the picture of an uncertain commodity, but also sets him up to be a terrific late round bargain in fantasy football.
Despite a draft process that had the Buccaneers tied to nearly every running back high and low, the Buccaneers stood pat and waited till the fifth round to take a flier on Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols. This, along with the fact that Doug Martin remains on the roster, indicates that the Bucs still haven’t given up on their troubled runner. If Martin holds up his end of the bargain and remains in the terrific shape that he is reportedly in, he’ll be stepping into a very good situation to produce fantasy football numbers.
A big part of both Martin’s struggles and successes have had to do with the quality of offensive line in front of him. The Buccaneer line has seen some good and bad over the last four seasons, but they now finally appear to have a formidable unit to produce in 2017. Last off-seasons’ prize free agent J.R. Sweezy is set to return at right guard from a back injury that forced him to miss all of 2016. His return has allowed Ali Marpet to slide to his natural position of center. At 28 years old, Martin still has enough tread left on the tires to capitalize on solid run blocking that he should receive.
Freeing up even more room for Martin is the quality of the Bucs passing game. Defenses will be fixed on stopping Jameis Winston and his array of nuclear targets, leaving a lot of open space for runners to operate in. From a fantasy perspective, you’re going to want to target a Buccaneer running back, even if it isn’t Martin, because the situation is set up perfectly for a running back to step up and produce decent numbers.
If you choose to pounce on Doug Martin’s extremely low fantasy stock, do so wisely; draft Jacquizz Rodgers too! The handcuff is an age-old fantasy tool and something I suggest you do with any early pick, but with Martin it’s extremely important because of the uncertainty he’s wrapped in. Jacquizz Rodgers can step in for those first three games that Martin is out and produce solid numbers while you wait the potential lottery ticket to finish his suspension.