It’s a little early to really know what Doug Martin’s impact will be on the Oakland Raiders. At this point, we don’t know how they’re going to approach their RB situation given that they’re now rostering 4 of them: Martin, Marshawn Lynch, DeAndre Washington, and Jalen Richard. One direction that the Raiders could go would be to keep Marshawn Lynch as the primary back and use Martin & company as backups. If this is the case, I don’t really expect big things from Martin, given that his usage likely won’t improve from that of his 2017 season with the Buccaneers. Another direction for Oakland to consider is to feature Martin as the RB1 and compliment him with Washington and Richard, ultimately cutting Marshawn Lynch. I personally like this scenario better for Martin and would expect immediate improvement from him, translating to what we’re most concerned with here: fantasy production.
There’s a lot of criticism out there for the way Martin has played over the last couple seasons, but let’s not forget that a lot of his departure from his 2012 and 2015 monster seasons was situational due to injury and off the field issues that led to his suspension for the beginning of the 2017 season. He has only played two full seasons in his NFL career, and those were by far his most successful campaigns. Yes, that shows that he’s an injury risk that the Raiders have taken on, but looking at the laundry list of injuries in the league over the past couple seasons, aren’t all RB’s an injury risk at this point? Look, we know what Martin is capable of. He got the nickname “Muscle Hamster” due to his short stature combined with an elusive powerful bruising-style running game. When healthy, I believe that he can return to his peak form, given the right situation (which first & foremost begins with his departure from Tampa); and running the ball behind the Raiders’ offensive line just might be the key here. His O-line situation has vastly improved with the transition from Tampa Bay to Oakland. And speaking of the Buccaneers, let’s take a look back at the RB situation from 2017 that has brought a lot of arguably undeserved hate in Martin’s direction. I’ve seen the word “trash” thrown around a lot on social media when referring to Martin’s disappointing season. Yes, it was certainly disappointing, but I attribute that to the fact that he didn’t play a full season (didn’t set foot on the field ‘til Week 5), his usage by the coaching staff was shoddy at best, and his poor performance somewhat correlates to Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury suffered in Week 6.
When Martin returned to the field in Week 5, he came out of the gate strong, rushing for a combined 127 yards on 27 attempts (in weeks 5 & 6), and catching 2 passes for a total of 19 yards, not to mention a TD in each game. His production, given the number of looks he got, was actually pretty decent, scoring him 14 fantasy points each week. Week 7 began his demise, rushing for 49 yards on 20 attempts, but his efficiency in the passing game was still strong: 31 yards on only 2 receptions (3 targets). Then, well, he just wasn’t the same since:
In fact, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said, when asked about Martin’s 2017 season, that he thought Martin wasn’t the same after his suspension. “I think lack of, or having a hard time getting the run game going was . . . you know, Doug . . . he just wasn’t ever the same.” I really question whether Doug Martin wasn’t the same after his suspension . . . or was he just not the same after Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury, leading him to miss several games throughout the rest of the season, affecting the performance of the entire team. Licht went on to say that the running game wasn’t adequate until Peyton Barber took over: “It wasn’t until late that Peyton kind of arrived and things started going a little better with him.” Kind of arrived? Things started going a little better? Not exactly glowing accolades for the back that many were saying was going to be Tampa’s solution to Doug Martin’s demise. In fact, let’s take a look at Barber’s 2017 stats via the link below:
Not much better than Martin, I’d say. Where was he in Weeks 2-4 while Martin was suspended (don’t forget, the Bucs didn’t play Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma)? He did have 3 good performances in Weeks 12, 13, and 17, but it’s too little, too late in my opinion. And Charles Sims? He was a non-factor; doesn’t even bear mentioning here.
It’s pretty easy to see that looking at Martin’s and Barber’s stats, and lack of stats for Sims, Martin suffered a disappointing 2017 season due to Tampa’s lack of direction in the running game overall, lack of giving him a fair shake to be the lead back throughout the entire season, and also due the overall poor play of the Bucs due to Winston’s injury. The RB’s obviously suffered, and what about their stud WR, Mike Evans. How’d he do last year? Yeah, I guess he must be trash too. So I guess the old saying just may apply here in Doug Martin’s situation, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I think Oakland and Doug Martin will mutually benefit from his acquisition, if they do decide to drop Marshawn and move forward with him as their lead back. It’s also notable that he’s only been given a 1-year “prove it” contract, so he’ll be extra motivated to get his game back on track, and if it doesn’t work out, then Oakland will move on. If everything falls into place for Martin and the Raiders, however, then maybe Derek Carr will be the one eating his fingers (oh, I’m sorry, “eating a W”) when Martin takes over in the Oakland backfield.
OK, so yes, Jordy Nelson is getting old, in WR years at least. And yeah, maybe injuries are a here as well, but it’s Jordy Nelson. I’m not going to post his stats here, or go over his career highlights, and you know exactly why. His play speaks for itself, and everyone knows what a talent Nelson is. Like Doug Martin, though, he is coming of a pretty disappointing season. Again, however, his lack of production is directly related to his situation last year (even more-so than Martin): Rodgers out, 2nd-year QB Brett Hundley in. 9 TDs, 12 interceptions. Enough said. Where was Nelson supposed to get his production from? There wasn’t any production to be had. He caught 6 TDs with Rodgers behind center in the first five weeks last season, and none with Hundley. He’s a TD machine who had established an undeniable rapport with Rodgers, and he’ll be a great fit in Oakland as well, given the departure of Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was known for taking away from Amari Cooper’s TD production, and now that he’s gone, Nelson will slip right into his place and continue the trend. Cooper’s star is on the rise, no doubt, but Jordy will certainly catch his share of TD passes from Derek Carr, another talented Oakland rising star. In fact, I think his veteran leadership from Nelson will prove to be a great asset to Cooper’s development, and they’ll be a duo to be reckoned with in 2018 and beyond. This is another great pickup by the Raiders.