The “From Reality to Fantasy” series of posts take an in-depth look at young NFL players. Partnering with my co-host Fantasy Sports Analyst, Dr. Roto from the NFL RedZone Report, you will get my perspective on the “reality” of each player profiled, meaning how the player played in college and how I think he’ll transition to the NFL game. Dr. Roto will then give his Fantasy Football spin on how to look at the player from a fantasy team owners perspective. Doc will tell you where these guys should be drafted in your fantasy league, what type leagues gives the most value on them, and how soon they should contribute. Enjoy as we cover every aspect from Reality to Fantasy on these NFL players.
Doug Martin may have landed in the best spot for any of the running backs selected. He will get to run behind an offensive line that consists of Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, and Carl Nicks. Josh Freeman should be allowed to get back to his old form and not play like the alien that took over his body for the 2011, horrific season.
Having Martin and LeGarrette Blount behind him will definitely ease his stress. Another helping hand or should I say hands, would be those of Vincent Jackson. His addition allows Mike Williams to move back into a position where he’s not asked to be the main offensive target. Mike will thrive in an offense that has a legit rushing attack and the defense has to focus on the receiving target opposite of him. This offense also has Kellen Winslow and Luke Stocker at the tight end position. Hopefully for them, Winslow still has a little left in the tank and Stocker develops that promise he showed in college. Developmental, rookie tight end, Drake Dunsmore will be another weapon, depending on how they want to use him and how quick he catches on.
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I wouldn’t bet against Martin having the best season of any of the rookie running backs. Behind that offensive line he could do some damage. He should be allowed to stay fresh with Blount getting a handful of carries as well. Martin is a powerful back that is faster than what you may initially think. He uses good vision with a combination of lateral quickness to frustrate defenses. But, maybe the best aspect of his game is his balance. He combines all of these tools on every carry. He is without a doubt an NFL back. If I had to wager on which rookie back would have the best 2012 season, it would be Martin. I don’t want to get carried away and just fill your heads up with all positives. There are some things that concern me.
Injuries are a part of the game. I’m not in love with the depth that the Bucs have on the O-line. If one of those big three offensive lineman goes down, Martin could have a huge uphill battle on his hands. I’m also assuming that Josh Freeman will bounce back this year due to all of his new weapons and the offensive strategy. If he struggles, it will be a tall order for a rookie running back to carry the load in a one-dimensional offense. I feel that the starting running back job already belongs to Doug Martin.
I’ve never been sold on LeGarrette Blount as a primary back. He’s had success in the league and does bring a different dimension to the backfield. Even though Martin is a powerful back, I would worry that the Bucs may just lean on him between the twenties. Tampa may view LeGarrette as the red zone back and specifically the goal line / short yardage back. It’s also worth noting that Blount does his best work in the fourth quarter, when the defense is worn down. Tampa Bay may take away a lot of Martin’s carries in the fourth as it could be hard for the Bucs to pass on bringing in a fresh monster back, like Blount to rip through a depleted defense. Michael Smith, the other rookie out of Utah State, will also see some carries as he’s a legitimate home run threat.
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All in all, Martin was the second best running back in this draft and he fell into a perfect fit for his skill set and team need. Despite how they use him, he will have early production. Remember, the NFL life of a running back is short. It may be better to take a well built, fast rookie, who’s running behind this offensive line than a big name guy that’s been in the league for a few years.
Dr. Roto’s Fantasy Football Spin
Now here is a guy that I will take a chance on. Martin has something that very few RBs have these days–the ability to stay on the field for all three downs. Martin can run, has soft hands out of the backfield, and can pick up the blitz. His own teammate, LeGarrette Blount, can’t catch or block which means that new coach Greg Schiano will use him primarily as a short yardage back or to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. Martin, on the other hand, looks to be a guy who can get about 1,000 yards rushing to go along with 500 yards receiving. While he may lose a TD or two at the goal line, I still think he has the chance to be an effective back.
Don’t overlook the Bucs. Josh Freeman has redemption on his mind and Vincent Jackson is still a big time threat at WR. Most importantly, I really think Schiano was a good hire. Anyone who can take Rutgers from NCAA laughing stock to perennial bowl participant gets kudos in my book. If Schiano sees something in Martin, then Dr. Roto is drinking the Kool-Aid. Martin would be a terrific RB3 for a Fantasy roster, but if you decide to load up on WRs early, I can definitely see him as a RB2 as well.