Tampa Bay looked like a team in the rise going into the 2013 regular season in the NFL, and it is now safe to say they failed to meet these expectations as they failed to, well, win games. Josh Freeman is no longer with the team, a quarterback that was once considered their future. They also thought they had what they thought was a franchise running back in Doug Martin, who was considered a high first round pick in fantasy football this year after a stellar rookie year in 2012.
Now, when I say “they thought they had a franchise running back”, I am not saying they no longer think this. There is no indication yet that they believe otherwise to this point. Doug Martin was placed on IR a week ago, and all signs point to him returning next year as their #1 and premier option.
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, I do not believe Doug Martin is what we perceived him to be after his rookie season. In 2012, Martin had 319 carries, putting up 1454 yards and 11 TDs, also to go along with 49 receptions for 472 yards and 1 TD. His average yards per carry was 4.6.
This year was a different story before his injury. In 6 games, he carried the ball 127 times for 465 yards with just 1 TD. He also only had 12 receptions for 66 yards. His yards per carry was 3.6.
So perhaps the team got worse, and this affected his production and effectiveness?
I don’t believe that to be the case.
Since his injury, his replacements Bobby Rainey and Mike James (who now is done for the year with an injury) have looked very good, and have been legitimate fantasy football options when they are the starters.
Mike James has 60 carries for 295 yards, while Bobby Rainey has emerged with 38 carries for 208 yards and 3 TDs. This works out to a 4.9 yards a carry and 5.5 yards a carry, respectively.
Nothing has changed significantly on the offense, yet these running backs are producing at a much higher level than Doug Martin was this year. It is too quick to judge Rainey after just one legitimate start with a week to prepare, but he did look solid this week.
Look, I am not saying Doug Martin is a bum, or that he doesn’t belong in this league. For all I know, I could be legitimately wrong on this judgment, but I know I will keep this in mind if this trend continues this year when Doug Martin is sitting there on my draft board for the 2014 fantasy football season. Don’t just throw away what Martin did this year and call it a fluke. You cannot count on him to return to his rookie production last year considering his inability to get going this year through 6 games, and in his absence see other running backs be significantly better.