The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side: Matt Waldman
When Martin has been healthy, he has been a clear-cut fantasy RB1. He has been a top-3 fantasy back twice, and both of those years were preceded by his team raving about him. The same praise for Martin is happening this spring. Martin is healthy, he addressed his substance issue and completed rehab in February for Adderall, and the team is confident in his future, according to Cameron DaSilva’s conversation with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht in April:
“[Coach] Dirk [Koetter] and I just very recently had a sit-down with him, a conversation with him. He looks great. He looks, right now, as good as I’ve seen him since I’ve been here form a physical standpoint. Seemed to be in very good spirits. Excited to have him. Excited to see how he does out herein OTAs.”
In OTAs Martin impressed his teammates and coaches with his physical preparation.
“One name that’s going to shock…Doug Martin,” said Jameis Winston during OTAs to NFL.com’s Kevin Patra. “He looks incredible. The way he’s bursting and just being so explosive. It really shows his resilience and how well he’s prepared this off-season.”
That’s enough for me to believe Martin is ready for another top-5 season at his position. It definitely is for the Buccaneers who already named Martin the starter after OTAs, despite serving the final three games of a four-game suspension to begin the year. When Martin was 2015’s No. 3 fantasy back, his rate of production would have placed him No. 11 overall if he had missed three games that year. Keep in mind that this was also the same year that Charles Sims was the No. 21 fantasy running back.
Although Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers are capable players, neither of them are in Martin’s class when he’s playing at his best. Martin has been living in the weight room and he’s in the best shape of his career. This likely means he’ll get a shot to earn extended reps in the passing game. In case you’re not aware, Marin caught 49 passes as a rookie in 2012, so the only reason the Buccaneers will use Sims or Rodgers is to keep Martin fresh.
The Buccaneers have a young offensive line that will have continuity between 2016 and 2017. This should help the unit develop a rapport as its youthful guards and left tackle develop into veterans. Considering Rodgers performance in relief of Martin last year, it’s clear that Martin’s issues weren’t just the offensive line. I expect a revamped Martin to deliver as an RB1 at an RB2 price, especially with the addition of big-play weapons in the passing game that will give Martin more red zone opportunities and a shot at double-digit scores.
Low Side: Jason Wood
Being asked to write the downside case for Doug Martin is kind of like asking Michael Phelps to swim a lap. Martin's own career is essentially a testament to why fantasy owners should avoid him.
Optimists remember Martin's 2012 (rookie) and 2015 seasons:
- 2012 -- 1,454 yards rushing / 472 yards receiving / 12 touchdowns
- 2015 -- 1,402 yard rushing / 271 yards receiving / 7 touchdowns
Yet, they seemingly forget three of his last four seasons:
- 2013 -- 456 yards rushing / 66 yards receiving / 1 touchdown
- 2014 -- 494 yards rushing / 64 yards receiving / 2 touchdowns
- 2016 -- 421 yards rushing / 134 yards receiving / 3 touchdowns
The "Muscle Hamster" has been ineffective, injured and has dug himself into a hole with his coaches due to violations of the league's substance abuse policy. Martin will be suspended four games to start this year and will have to dig out of a mountainous hole to regain relevancy.
With Jameis Winston entering his third season, the team is going to feel more comfortable letting the offense flow through the franchise passer. Mike Evans is on the cusp of superstardom and Tampa Bay added DeSean Jackson and rookie O.J. Howard. This is a team built to throw the ball, and has plenty of alternatives in the backfield to "Mr. 500 Yards from Scrimmage."