The Buccaneers released Doug Martin after two disappointing seasons spoiled by injuries, suspensions, and poor efficiency. He played six seasons in Tampa after being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. The Buccaneers drafted Martin with the 31st overall pick after trading up from the top of the second round. The signs of Martin’s decline have been out there for a while, but the Bucs and fantasy owners alike were hoping for a bounceback season that didn’t occur.
Should you make a move for Martin in dynasty if he lands in a good location?
MARTIN’S DECLINING PRODUCTION
Martin’s production has been up and down like an escalator. It has been many years since his breakout 2012 rookie campaign.
Martin accumulated 1,400 rushing yards in two out of those six seasons, but ran for less than 500 rushing yards in the other four, also recording negative efficiency (ruFPOE) in those four campaigns. He never matched the career-high 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns from his rookie season. Martin came close to replicating his magical rookie year in 2015. This prompted the Buccaneers to resign him the following spring.
Martin has accumulated a dismal 827 yards and played in only 19 games in the two years since. The five-year, $35.75 million contract would have paid him $6.75 million in 2018. Martin’s four-game suspension in late 2016 for violating the NFL’s PED policy voided the guarantees, allowing Tampa to cut him without absorbing a hit on their salary cap.
The Buccaneers offense averaged a drab 24.4 rushing attempts and 90.6 rushing yards per game last season. Peyton Barber outperformed Martin in nearly every statistical area.
The release of Martin suggests the Buccaneers are looking for a new featured back. Charles Sims is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March which leaves the Buccaneers with Jacquizz Rodgers as the only other RB. Allow me to continue to lift the veil for you.
IS MARTIN PAST HIS PHYSICAL PRIME?
Age and career touches are critical variables when evaluating the RB position. The RB1 tier has averaged 360.2 touches, 1,905 total yards, and 12 TDs. The average age of this group is 25.6. Eighty-one percent of the peak seasons fall between the ages of 23 to 28.
Martin turned 29 back in January and an increasing number of injuries continue to derail his career. History suggests his most productive seasons are behind. Could he return to fantasy prominence if he lands in a positive location?
POTENTIAL LANDING SPOTS
My two favorite landing spots are the Lions and Seahawks as part of an RB by committee.
The Lions averaged 22.7 rushing attempts and a league-worst 76.3 rushing yards per game. The team’s offensive line also ranked last in Adjusted Line Yards and 23rd in Open Field Yards. This suggests that Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick were not talented enough to rise above poor OL play.
You must be wondering how could Martin thrive in this situation. Riddick has a stranglehold on the receiving back role in Detroit, but the Lions have a need for an RB to grind out yards on the early-down and short yardage work. The team could benefit in the short term by signing Martin to an incentive-based contract. This type of scenario and transaction for new Lions head coach Matt Patricia is eerily similar to what he observed during his time in New England under Bill Belichick. This would be an upside signing for a team that looking to move away from depth power backs like Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner.
The Seahawks also have a prime opening with Russell Wilson leading them in rushing yards last season. No Seattle RB ran for more than 250 yards.
The Seahawks will continue to look for an RB of the future such as LSU’s Derrius Guice, but adding a veteran like Martin could help in the near term. The Seahawks OL is in a similar predicament to the Lions by being ranked 31st in Adjusted Line Yards and 21st in Open Field Yards. The situation is not optimal, but Martin couldn’t be any worse than failed reclamation project Eddie Lacy, and he’d have goal line opportunities given Wilson’s out-of-this-world play.
A Free Bounceback Candidate?
Martin could be viewed as an inexpensive bounceback candidate this season. It will be interesting to watch how his ADP or average draft position fluctuates from now up until the regular season. Martin has shown how productive he can be when healthy. It remains to be seen if he can parlay a one-year, incentives based contract into a larger one.
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