With Doug Martin suspended the first three games of the season, news out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp has been hot and heavy concerning their running back situation.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano interviewed Bucs General Manager Jason Licht on his training camp tour this past weekend. Of note, Licht said Martin has looked like his 2015 form thus far but acknowledged his starting position is not set in stone.
“Look, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he looks reminiscent of 2015 when he was playing for his contract. He looks the same out there, mentally and physically. So he might be one of those guys that needs a carrot. And he’s got a pretty big carrot in front of him right now, because there’s no guarantees that he’s going to be here. And he knows that. We’ve talked to him, and he’s good with it. He goes, ‘I understand.'”
Players returning from drug-related suspensions face an uphill battle just staying in the league. While Martin serves his suspension, the early-down workload will shift to Jacquizz Rodgers. I covered Rodgers back in June as a dynasty stash that could pay dividends in 2017. At the time, I speculated that Rodgers could be more than just an early season fill-in.
The interview with Licht now confirms that Rodgers could play himself into a larger workoad even if/when Martin returns. In response, his MFL10 ADP over the past month has jumped almost 50 spots as the drumbeat regarding his role has increased. Meanwhile, Martin’s ADP has only dropped slightly.
Third Down RB
Rookie #Bucs Jeremy McNichols with first-team reps in the passing game – a sign he's already contending with Charles Sims for 3rd down RB.— PewterReport (@PewterReport) July 30, 2017
The battle for passing down work in the Bucs offense is between incumbent Charles Sims and fifth-rounder Jeremy McNichols. Jordan Hoover covered the McNichols pick back in May. The Boise State product was seeded No. 9 in our RB Sweet 16 tournament and advanced to the Final Four before narrowly losing to D’onta Foreman. At Sunday’s practice, McNichols was working with the first-team passing offense. Considering he missed the entirety of mini-camp due to labrum surgery, that’s a substantial move for the rookie.
Conversely, news for Sims this off-season has been minimal. He was placed on injured reserve ahead of Week 17 and needed shoulder surgery before camp. Sims was able to participate in OTAs while McNichols was still recovering from his own surgery. However, Sims is in the final year of his rookie deal, and the Bucs may have drafted his replacement. On the positive side, Sims and McNichols are both cheap to acquire in MFL10’s with ADPs over 200 given the uncertainty of who will have the passing-down role.
Tampa Bay begins their preseason schedule next Friday, August 11th at Cincinnati. For more information on the Bucs, check out their fantasy preview. As training camp and the preseason progresses, we’ll update our projections as more news comes out. In the meantime, check out our current projections which have Sims as a nice value, assuming he keeps the third down job. To catch up on the rookie, Kevin Cole wrote about McNichols as the most undervalued RB of the 2017 class.