Rebounding in 2014

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Doug Martin, Trent Richardson and CJ Spiller all came into 2013 as first round picks and fantasy studs. But, 2013 quickly became a season to forget for all three guys for one reason or another. Will 2014 be a similar storyline for these guys or is the potential to return first round value still a real possibility?

Stemming from his breakout 2012 campaign, when Doug Martin gave owners who took him in the middle rounds of drafts a huge reward, he headed into his 2013 season the massive hype and potential. While Martin has the ability to almost win an owner a week single handily, it gave some owners cause for concern with so much value wrapped up in two games. Those two games accounted for 34% of his total points in 2012.

Doug Martin spent the first seven weeks of the season vastly under performing his first round selection. A shoulder injury in week 7 shutdown Martin for the rest of the year. Martin managed only 51 fantasy points last season or the same amount he scored against the Raiders in 2012. I dont want to place all of the blame on Martin for his disappointing 2013 season. Josh Freeman’s hapless inefficiency combined with Greg Schiano doing Greg Schiano things wasn’t helping anything Martin was trying to do. Doug Martin was unproductive with his carries he saw in 2013, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry down from 4.6 yards per carry the previous season.

There are a few things that give fantasy owners optimism for his turnaround this season. One being the emergence of Mike Glennon. Glennon provided some balance to the Buccaneer offense that should force defenses to avoid loading the box and leave Martin with more running room. Second reason was the late season production of Bobby Rainey and Mike James. Both became fantasy relevant in 2013 and gave owners who were scrambling for viable running backs usable options. Doug Martin is a significantly more talented back than either Rainey or James. The potential for a big bounce back season is there for Doug Martin.

Trent Richardson also spent 2013 underwhelming fantasy owners. After a strong rookie season, the Cleveland Browns seemed like they had found their running back of the future was on track to become a fantasy stud. Richardson was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first round pick after Week 2. In a move that seemed like a surprise at the time, has proven the Browns might have known what was coming and made their future plans accordingly. If only fantasy owners had seen the writing on the wall.

Richardson was a huge disappointment after arriving in Indy gaining only 458 yards on 157 carries. I love the idea of a talent like Richardson in an offense the OC Pep Hamilton runs that relies heavily on the power run game. I also love that Richardson has a superstar quarterback that defenses will scheme for. I’m not nearly as high on Richardson getting back to the first round talent in 2014 as Doug Martin but remain cautiously optimistic. I’m willing to give Richardson a shot in 2014 but only as a mid to late round pick. I’m curious to see how late he falls in drafts. Does name value alone prop him up or did he burn too many owners last season?

The third potential bounce back candidate is CJ Spiller. While Spiller didn’t have the falling off the cliff seasons of Richardson or get bit by the injury bug like Martin, he was incredibly inconsistent. I don’t want all of the blame to fall entirely on Spiller. While coach Doug Marrone had a very productive Fred Jackson that outperformed Spiller in most weeks, he didn’t do Spiller any favors with the massive snap and touch disparities week to week. Doug Marrone also stated the Spiller suffered through an ankle sprain from week 4 on. For a guy who relies on quick cuts and a burst to not have confidence in his ankle would be a huge issue to overcome.

An off-season to recover should help Spiller regain his old form. In 2014 I will be following Doug Marrone and Bills closely. I want to see what their plan for him is, although he was supposedly going to run him into the ground in 2013. I also want to see how his ankle has recovered going into 2014. I’d love to see Marrone stick to a system where Spiller gets 15-20 touches a game and Fred Jackson gets the rest of the carries. An improved season from EJ Manuel could bring sustained drives and give Spiller better opportunities.

I see both Spiller and Martin being picked somewhere between the end of round 1 and the middle of round two in most redraft leagues. That sounds like a reasonable place to take them especially with the ability to be the number one running back in fantasy, although that is more of a long shot than safe bet though. I would be inclined to gamble on their talent in round 2 if i grabbed Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, or Peyton Manning in the end of round one. If the value is there id grab Trent Richardson later in drafts as a lottery ticket. I’ll be much more inclined to own him in a shallow league where the ability to replace him is more likely

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