I’m either going to eat my words or throw them in your face later this season, but I still have faith in Doug Martin.
After an outstanding rookie season with 1,454 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, not to mention 49 catches for 472 yards, Martin has struggled to stay healthy the past two years, leaving many doubters as to whether or not he would ever live up to his rookie year hype.
Enter the 2015 season –
When talking Tampa, all you hear about is Jameis Winston and rightly so. As the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft, he is supposed to be the next franchise quarterback. Buccaneer fans are drooling over the long term possibilities of Winston paired up with 2014 rookie sensation WR Mike Evans. Can they finally be the magic combination to turn this franchise around?
Despite not seeing recent success in real football, or maybe it’s because they’ve been bad, the Buccaneers have a handful of solid fantasy options: the aforementioned Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and on defense Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy.
But in the midst of all this hype, everyone seems to forget about the 2012 1st round pick. Since training camp has opened and the pads went on, however, the Bucs have been singing a different tune. Would you believe me if I told you that Doug Martin has been the most impressive player in camp? True story. Google it.
According to Mike Mayock, “Doug Martin looks fantastic!” and HC Lovie Smith has committed to Martin as lead back this season, which is tough to find in this era of RBBC. Dynasty owners and the Buccaneers are excited to see the “leaner and quicker” Muscle Hamster of 2012, but is it too much to ask for 4.6 yards per carry and 90 yards a game? I think not, given the attention the passing game is going to respect with the playmakers at WR.
However, any time you have a rookie QB, you want to establish an effective run game. It’s no secret that Tampa’s front line has been abysmal. But that situation was addressed in this year’s draft as Tampa invested two 2nd round picks to shore up the offensive line – Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet (D3 shout-out!). Keep your expectations in check for the beginning of the season while the young Bucs find their groove and with starting RT Demar Dotson returning from injury.
Taking everything into account, I don’t expect the 2015 Bucs to burst on the scene immediately improved from last season but they’ll find their stride week 7 after the bye. Dougie-fresh should still put up solid numbers as they lean heavily on the run game to grind out time of possession and keep the chains moving, while limiting the potential mistakes of a rookie QB.
Finally with some 2015 game action, or at least the closest thing since the Super Bowl, we have fresh game film to study. In their first preseason game, the Bucs repeatedly ran the ball with Martin on the starting 4 plays, the first of those for a 19-yard gain. You couldn’t help but notice him running hard and falling forward after contact. Something to keep an eye on – Martin was replaced on 3rd down.
Currently with an ADP between 58 – 148 and #34 RB off the board, the Curious Case of the Muscle Hamster needed to be told. Now in his 4th year, he is looking like his rookie self. Don’t pass on him because of a couple of down seasons. Don’t call him a sleeper, because I’m calling it right now. Don’t call him Muscle Hamster, he doesn’t like that nickname. But whatever you do… don’t call it a comeback!