Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running back Doug Martin was most likely the second rookie selected in most fantasy football drafts this year, behind only Trent Richardson. He probably cost his owner a fourth- or fifth-round pick in the draft and so far, has most likely cost that same owner a game or two in this young fantasy season.
Martin started the season off as expected in Week 1—he gained 95 yards on 24 carries and went 23 yards on four catches. He didn't cross the goal line in Week 1 but did in Week 2. Things were looking to be on course.
In Week 3, a pattern started to emerge: Martin's carries were creeping downward. He received 24 carries in Week 1, 20 in Week 2 and 19 in Week 3. And then in Week 4, Martin's carries took a nosedive—he carried the ball a meager eight times.
Over that same span of games, LeGarrette Blount's carries have increased: 3 (WK1), 0 (WK2), 4 (WK3) and 6 (WK4). And in Week 4 against the Washington Redskins, Blount took the role of Tampa's goal line back and vultured a touchdown from Martin.
While it looked as though Martin had a stranglehold on the running back duties in Tampa at the beginning of the season, it sure smells like a time-share is cooking. And when you consider head coach Greg Schiano's recent comments about Martin's lack of production, it tastes like one too.
"The more LeGarrette feels good and we keep getting him in there, the more that’s a different back and forth different styles, I think that will also help in Doug’s production," said Schiano.
The last thing Martin owners want to hear is Tampa's head coach talking about getting Blount more carries. Sure, Schiano is spinning it to say that it will help Martin's production, but we're not buying it. Blount looked more explosive in the red zone than Martin and will most likely take over those duties.
So while Martin still outpaced Blount in snaps 46-to-12 in Week 4, those 12 lost snaps were key for fantasy purposes. And if you watched the game, more often than not D.J. Ware served as the Bucs' third-down back, which raises yet another concern for Martin owners.
It's time to watch this situation closer. Is Martin going to resume the every-down back role after the bye week? Or is Martin going to be limited to a first and second down back who only runs between the 20's?
Some fantasy owners may be thinking about trading Martin now, even though his stock is at its worst. They are answering "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second.
Now is not a good time to trade Martin, however. The Bucs play the Chiefs at home after their bye-week and then host the New Orleans Saints in Week 7. After those two weeks, Martin should have put up solid enough numbers to raise his stock to get a decent return. Don't let panic set in—now is not the time to trade Martin, unless you can land a guy like Ryan Mathews.
If your sporting some depth at the running back spot, then Martin is a guy to hold onto for fantasy playoff purposes. Tampa plays the Eagles, Saints and Rams in Weeks 14-16, respectively. That's a pretty favorable fantasy schedule for a running back.
So pay close attention to Week 6 to see how Tampa divides up the carries between Martin, Blount and Ware. If the trend we noticed continues, then let Martin have a solid game and then send him packing.
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