Fantasy football writers don’t agree on much. If you follow Matthew Berry, Evan Silva, Sigmund Bloom or Paul Charchian on Twitter, you know that they are always going back and forth on players. Berry says that Adrian Peterson should be number 1 RB this year, while the others all have trouble agreeing on Charles or McCoy. I read a lot of articles and listen to a lot of podcasts, many of them in August come from the people listed above, along with many other writers from ESPN, Yahoo, NFL and Rotoworld. They don’t have a lot in common, except when it comes to early picks in snake drafts. You see the words “value” and “consistency” used often amongst them. With your first two or three picks, you need players who can put up numbers on a week-to-week basis. The first couple of picks are not the ones that you should be taking risks with. Take the players who stay on the field and produce every single Sunday. That being said, you won’t find Doug Martin on any of my fantasy teams this year because of his inconsistency and inability to stay on the field early on in his career. Let’s look a little deeper into Tampa’s tailback.
Martin’s 2012 campaign was nothing short of amazing. He started all 16 games, racking up 1,454 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 90.9 yards per game. To add to those impressive rookie numbers, he also had 49 catches for another 472 yards and 1 more TD. Between his rushing and receiving yards, you were getting 120.4 yards per game!
Now let’s look back to 2013. It’s August and you are getting ready for your upcoming draft. Everyone wanted a piece of Doug Martin and quite frankly why wouldn’t you? He was coming off a monster year and you knew he was durable. He was drafted in the 1st round of almost every standard and PPR draft. Going into week 1, Martin was your man.
6 games is what you got from Martin last year (127 rushing attempts for 456 yards and 1 TD). He averaged just 3.6 yards per tote and 76 total yards per game. He added 12 catches for another 66 yards and in 6 games while fumbling 2 twice. In 2012 he only fumbled only once over the course of the entire season. If you drafted him you were absolutely devastated. So what happened?
The news came on November 8th. Martin was placed on IR with an arm injury, ending his season. He had been dealing with a left shoulder injury and since the Bucs were 0-8 already, why risk further damage to their young star? Tampa’s 2013 roster was nothing special, finishing 4-12 and 4th in the NFC South for the 3rd straight season. I looked back at the rosters of the 2012 and 2013 Bucs to see what the big difference was between them. The only notable difference was the quarterback. 2012’s version had Josh Freeman under center and in his 3rd year, he impressed, passing for over 4,000 yards and 27 scores. The Bucs’ reputable passing offense allowed Martin room to run, opening up the line for him to make big plays. Last year’s slinger Mike Glennon struggled in his 13 games, passing for only 2,600 yards. He only had Mike Williams for 5 games, and while Vincent Jackson shined, there were only so many passes he could catch before defenses doubled up on him. The defenses knew the ball was going to Martin and that lead to many challenges for him. Martin’s YPC decreased while the pain in his shoulder increased. The Bucs always seemed to be trailing as well and that lead to more throwing situations in the games that Martin played. Simply stated, the 2013 season Bucs just weren’t very good, Martin included.
Consistency; remember me talking that up in the first paragraph? I am mentioning it again because it’s that important. Your top fantasy picks in your draft need to provide just this. If a player scores you 30 points in one week but only 3 the next week, you have to pick and choose when to use him. When you have to choose you spend hours upon hours wondering if you should use these players on a week-to-week basis, and when you are wrong you curse about making the wrong decision! That is why your top guys need to be consistent. Put them in your lineup and expect productivity every week of the season. Let’s break down Martin’s 2012:
Week 1: 95 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving 0 TD (11.8 fantasy points)
Week 2: 66 yards rushing, 0 yards receiving 1 TD (12.6 fantasy points)
Week 3: 53 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving 0 TD (7.4 fantasy points)
Week 4: 33 yards rushing, 9 receiving yards 0 TD (4.2 fantasy points)
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: 76 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards 0 TD (13.1 fantasy points)
Week 7: 85 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards 1 TD (18.2 fantasy points)
Week 8: 135 rushing yards, 79 receiving yards 2 TD (33.4 fantasy points)
Week 9: 251 rushing yards, 21 rushing yards 4 TD (55.2 fantasy points)
Week 10: 68 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards 0 TD (11.8 fantasy points)
Week 11: 138 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards 0 TD (16.1 fantasy points)
Week 12: 50 rushing yards, 13 receiving yards 2 TD (18.3 fantasy points)
Week 13: 56 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards 0 TD (9.8 fantasy points)
Week 14: 128 rushing yards, 4 receiving yards 1 TD (19.2 fantasy points)
Week 15: 16 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards 0 TD (3.5 fantasy points)
Week 16: 62 rushing yards, 57 receiving yards 0 TD (11.9 fantasy points)
Week 17: 142 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards 1 TD (22.0 fantasy points)
If I look at that game log and don’t know who the player is, I assume that is my RB1 but I am still concerned about some of the low fantasy totals. Anyone who drafted Martin in 2012 was happy because they drafted him in the 4th or 5th round as their RB2 or flex player. Now let’s quickly look at his 2013 game log in the weeks leading up to his injury where he was drafted in the top 10 of drafts:
Week 1: 65 rushing yards, -1 receiving yards 1 TD (12.4 fantasy points)
Week 2: 144 rushing yards, 0 receiving yards 0 TD (14.4 fantasy points)
Week 3: 88 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards 0 TD (10.8 fantasy points)
Week 4: 45 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards 0 TD (6.1 fantasy points)
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: 67 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards 0 TD (9.1 fantasy points)
Week 7: 47 rushing yards, 7 receiving yards 0 TD (5.4 fantasy points)
Week 8: IR
Scary numbers to say the least, especially when you drafted him in the first round. I know the injury was a big concern but do we know that he is 100% healthy?
Let’s look ahead to 2014:
The Buccaneers are now led by coach Lovie Smith, a defensive thinker. Looking at new OC Jeff Tedford, he comes to the NFL after a decade at California coaching the Golden Bears. If you look at his philosophy, he loves to run the ball. Tedford’s teams in the last 4 years have run the ball 1,862 times and passed 1,337 times (58% run and 42% pass). Tedford now gets to call plays for Josh McCown who had 13 TD and only 1 pick in his 8 games for Chicago last season. I see Tedford looking to throw more now that he has a QB that has shown he can succeed in the NFL plus a viable wideout core.
Doug Martin has the potential to be a superstar in the NFL. His 2012 campaign left us excited for the future, while 2013 left us asking questions about his potential and ability to stay on the field. While Doug Martin has a chance to repeat his 2013 season and become a top fantasy option, there are too many questions revolving around him. While he is going around pick 14 in current ADP, there are plenty of other players I would rather have at this point. He is too inconsistent and while his talent is undeniable, he is not worthy of a 2nd round pick in 2014 fantasy drafts. If you draft him, good luck. You’ll probably need it.
Statistical credits: http://www.pro-football-reference.com, http://www.bucsnation.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/5Dh2uu
Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!