Am I Alone: I think Doug Martin could be a valuable asset to your fantasy this year… #AmIAlone
— The Bum (@BumsBlitz) June 7, 2015
In my newest ebook, “The Smart Fantasy Football Investor: 2015 Edition,” I discuss the concept of being greedy when others are fearful. I never bought into the hype of drafting Martin in Round 2 last year, and those who did vowed to never even look at Martin again. That creates a potential opportunity for a savvy player, especially considering Martin’s ADP of 8.07.
A Review of Doug Martin
Martin burst onto the scene in 2012 with 1,454 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 472 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. While those are very exciting numbers, especially for a rookie, perhaps we all were too quick to hitch our trailers to his wagon.
In Week 9 of the 2012 season, Martin had his way with the Oakland Raiders to put it nicely. He rushed for 251 yards, as well as ran in four touchdowns. In terms of his rushing touchdown production, Martin scored 36% of his touchdowns for the season in just that one game. This also means that against Oakland, Martin recorded 17% of his rushing yards for the season. The fourth-year back also recorded 142 rushing yards in a throw away game in Week 17, which accounted for 9% of his rushing yards for the year.
So in retrospect, it should have been a sign for concern that an outlier was a big source for his Fantasy success. Granted, I think his numbers from the 2012 season are good enough to easily justify Martin as a first-round pick in 2013, but that Week 9 game should have served as a tiny red flag to repress unrealistic expectations.
Doug Martin’s Rookie Year and 2014
After fighting a shoulder injury, Martin only appeared in six games for the 2013 season. I think the perception of Martin was that he never found a rhythm to start the season, but if he had played a full season, his average rushing yards per game suggest that he would have finished with over 1,200 rushing yards. His receiving yards, however, we’re significantly down, and he would have only finished with 176 compared to his 472 from the year before.
I think that is where the problem is really hiding. If Matt Forte has a limited amount of touches in the rushing attack, he can still help Fantasy owners with his involvement in the passing attack. With distractions in 2013 surrounding Josh Freeman and the coaching staff, the Buccaneers were just trying to survive. Martin was injured, and it wasn’t a great environment for NFL or Fantasy success.
In 2014, the team was still trying to find an identity. Veteran Josh McCown was brought in from Chicago to lead super-weapon Mike Evans, but his injuries and inefficiency landed McCown in Cleveland. Martin struggled once again, and he lost the trust of Fantasy players.
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Luckily for Martin, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter knows how to involve a pass-catching back into a game plan.
Koetter served as the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007-2011, so he was there during the prime of Maurice Jones-Drew‘s career. Under Koetter, Jones-Drew never saw less than 300 receiving yards in a season. When Koetter became the offensive coordinator in Atalanta in 2012, running Jacquizz Rodgers finished that year with 402 receiving yards. Rodgers finished with 341 yards in 2013, and Steven Jackson accumulated 191 receiving yards. When combined together, Devonta Freeman, Antone Smith, Rodgers and Jackson accounted for 768 receiving yards in 2014.
What this means, is that Martin has the chance to regain value in the passing attack. This will also help keep him healthier. As a rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston is going to get in trouble. He may find the need to dump the ball off more than an established signal caller, so Martin can once again benefit in this offense.
At one point it appeared that Martin might be out the door, but that sentiment has changed over the past few weeks. Koetter apparently fought to keep Martin, and he is currently running with the first team in OTAs.
After watching Sims at WVU, he was a big sleeper pick of mine last year. An ankle injury before the season meant that he didn’t play his first game until Week 10, and he finished the year with an ugly 2.8 yards per carry average. Sims was garnished with some of the best hands for a running back in his draft class, and while he struggled in the rushing attack, he averaged 23.8 reaching yards per game.
We still have to watch to see how training camp unfolds, but I think Koetter wants Martin to be the main back. He can sprinkle Sims in, and Bobby Rainey serves as a third-year back who can be utilized in the rushing attack, passing attack and as a returner.
Fantasy players can forget how important an offensive line is for the success of a running back. We saw what a great line could do for DeMarco Murray, and we also saw what a line struggling with injuries and stabilities did for LeSean McCoy. Yes, the running back still has to produce on his own merit, but he also needs a line to give him a lane.
The offensive line ranked 25th on ProFootballFocus.com in 2014, but the Buccaneers tried to address these issues through the 2015 NFL Draft. Offensive tackle Donovan Smith and center Ali Marpet were second and third-round picks respectively, and while it may take time for a complete overhaul, the offensive unit seems to be headed in the right direction.
Doug Martin in 2015
If Martin was still falling in the early rounds of Fantasy drafts, I would completely avoid him. With an ADP of 8.07, however, he looks pretty tempting. If he works out, I landed a steal. If he doesn’t, I really didn’t get burned using an eighth-round pick on him.
In terms of the quarterback position, coaching changes and offensive weapons, this is a team on the rise. Martin can still produce the underwhelming results we’ve been accustomed to the last two seasons, but for such a late pick, why not find out what he still has in the tank?
Jack Delaney is the owner of Your Fantasy Football Coach. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to check out his new ebook The Smart Fantasy Football Investor: 2015 Edition to start preparing for your 2015 Fantasy Football draft.