Fantasy Football Sleepers 2017: Doug Martin

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To say that this years running back class is supremely loaded would be a vast understatement. The immensely talented rookie rushers that emerged from the draft are, by themselves, worth keeping an eye on as high quality fantasy assets. Combine this years youngsters with the established veterans and what you’re left with is a plethora of versatile runners who could be valuable in nearly every fantasy league. Nevertheless, there are several notable rushers who are hardly getting noticed where they were once considered consummate starters on most fantasy squads. Arguably, no one running back fits this description better than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers own Doug Martin.
Looking at his stats over the past two years will leave you dumbfounded given the disparity between his performances from 2015-2016. Two years ago, Martin was a hard-nosed rusher who fearlessly burst through defensive lines and had the speed to go the distance in the open field (4.9 yards per carry in 2015).
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Comparatively, the 2016 season was an utter disaster for Martin as he only played in eight games due to injury and when he was on the field he was barely a shell of himself. Managing only a measly 2.9 yards per carry, Martin’s once alluring elusiveness no longer baffled defenders as his juke rate dropped from 32.7 % in 2015 (16th amongst running backs) to 17.7% in 2016 (60th amongst running backs). Overall, it was an extremely disappointing year for Martin and has discouraged some fantasy junkies from considering him a viable weapon this season.
However, this is not the first time Martin has had a down year only to bounce back in the subsequent season. In 2014, Martin played in 11 games and had one of the most underwhelming years of his career statistically(494 rushing yards, 3.7 yards per carry). Yet, we all know what happened in 2015 and there is every reason to believe that 2017 could pan out in similar fashion. Most recently, Martin displayed his coveted abilities that made him a mainstay on the majority of fantasy teams two years ago in the Buccaneers week 2 preseason game. Despite carrying the ball just five times for 30 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Martin averaged six yards per carry and looked to be in mid-season form in his brief showing.
While Martin’s value decreases somewhat with the fact that he will miss the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s drug policy, it seems clear that Martin will be a highly productive fantasy rusher once he does return. Although some fantasy pundits have projected Martin as going in the middle-rounds of fantasy drafts, he could feasibly slip into the later rounds due to depth at the position and his overall lack of production last year. If this happens, Martin could easily become the steal of the draft amongst running backs.

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