The RB Countdown series examines the fantasy outlook for the top 50 running backs in PPR formats using tiers created by our Fantasy Stat Explorer and other tools like the Draft Dashboard and Projection Machine.
As we look at the RB40-50 range, today we compare two Raiders RBs, new arrival and potential bounceback player Doug Martin and incumbent deep sleeper Jalen Richard. We answer the question: Are drafters buying the wrong value back in Oakland?
Martin began his NFL career with a hot start for the Buccaneers in 2012. Despite his phenomenal 2012 and 2015 seasons, Martin enters 2018 with negative marks in both rushing (-22.6) and receiving (-15.9) fantasy points over expectation (FPOE) over his career. Richard is at a very different point in his career with more than 1,000 fewer carries, but his rushing (21.0) and receiving (11.0) marks are currently in the black.
We can dive deeper with the FFDraftPrep tools and see where the drop has occurred for Martin.
In the last five seasons, Martin has only once had played close to a full season, and while his total points have obviously been tied to availability, 2015 was also easily his five-year peak in points per game as well. After the breakout season in 2012 as a rookie, he has consistently disappointed relative to ADP, finishing 35 or more spots later than he was drafted in four of those seasons.
Martin Is Probably Done
Blair Andrews’ research on RBs demonstrates that they tend to break out early, if at all, and then suffer a decline in points throughout their careers.1 Martin is a prime example with a career that took off like a rocket before collapsing back to earth. Unfortunately, he’s about to enter the age range where things really get bleak.
We can again take a deeper dive with Martin to see if the secondary trends support his collapsing ADP.
To be a fantasy factor, a RB needs to catch passes, earn goal line carries, and demonstrate explosiveness. Over the last two years, Martin has only scored six times in the red zone. Last year, he struggled badly on his highest carry down (1st) with only a 24 percent success rate. He was also a nonfactor on the third down, losing all of those fantasy-friendly opportunities to teammates. With only one breakaway play, the Muscle Hamster’s dynamic days look firmly in the rear view.
These statistical trends do not forecast a sunny outlook for Martin’s 2018 season and websites like Sports Injury Predictor continue to view him as an injury risk.
Jalen Richard Isn’t Drafted – But What If He Has Value?
Richard doesn’t show up because he’s only been selected one time in an MFL10 over the last month.
It’s easy to understand why Richard wouldn’t be a priority after the Raiders added Martin, especially when the former UDFA must still battle DeAndre Washington for space duties. But Richard owned a better success rate on all three downs than Martin last year, broke five times as many explosive runs, and will see more of his work in high value situations.
Of course, part of any breakout would require vanquishing Washington. Richard earned only 16 third-down opportunities in 2017.
Sim Scores Prefer the Value in Richard
Despite the differences in ADP, the Sim Scores prefer the young back at the median level and put the two players in the same range overall.
Should We Even Bother?
Martin and Richard may not be direct competitors for touches this season,2 but they are in direct competition for the “late-round flyer” spot on your fantasy roster.
The Raiders backfield is shaping up to be one to avoid this season. When Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was with the Buccaneers (2002 to 2008) his teams ranked near the bottom of the NFL in rushing attempts per game in 71.4 percent of those seasons. Success or failure for the Raiders in 2018 is likely to rest on the arm of franchise quarterback Derek Carr.
Still, you may want a little exposure to a potential bounceback offense, especially at these prices. Given the age of the other RBs he is competing against Richard could pay huge dividends to fantasy players who take a flier on him late in fantasy drafts.
What was most useful for you? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody. Be on the lookout for the next article in the series.
- Make sure to check out Blair’s excellent work for a fuller explanation of how to interpret the chart and why this tends to happen. (back)
- Martin would mostly grab his work at the expense of Lynch, and Richard figures to fight Washington for touches, but note from the Stat Explorer above that Richard had more early-down opportunities than you might have remembered. (back)