Fantasy 5: What is Doug Martin’s value in 2017?
Jeff Ratcliffe looks at the top fantasy news of the day, including RB battles in Tampa Bay and New York and a QB battle in Denver.
Fantasy 5: What is Doug Martin’s value in 2017?
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
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Alright, infomercial over. Let’s get into today’s news:
1. The running back to own in Tampa Bay is …
This is something of a tricky question, but the Bucs seem to be tipping their hand with Doug Martin working with the first team during OTAs. Martin will open the season on a three-game suspension, but has consistently drawn praise throughout the offseason. Tampa drafted Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round of April’s draft, but the Bucs are expected to use a combination of Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims while Martin is suspended.
Martin battled hamstring issues last season, appearing in just eight games and averaging a dreadful 2.9 yards per carry. Despite the lack of efficiency, he ranked 15th among running backs in fantasy scoring in Weeks 10-15. He also was one of the most consistent backs in the league from a touch standpoint. Only LeSean McCoy touched the ball at a more consistent rate.
So while the productivity isn’t ideal, Martin’s work with the ones in OTAs and his 2016 touch consistency bode positively for 2017. It isn’t wise to expect a huge rebound year from Martin, but he has the potential to produce RB2 numbers when he returns to the lineup. He’s currently priced fairly with an ADP in the eighth round as the 32nd running back off the board.
2. Rob Gronkowski restructures his contract
Ordinarily, this sort of thing isn’t particularly fantasy relevant, but Gronkowski’s recent restructuring warrants our attention. His new deal is loaded up with incentives. At the highest level, Gronk’s salary would be $10.75 million, which is more than double his original deal. To reach that tier, he’ll have to do one of the following: catch 80 balls, top 1,200 yards, be an All-Pro, or play 90 percent of the Patriots’ snaps.
In his career, Gronkowski been named a first-team All-Pro four times (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), topped 80 catches twice (2011, 2014), and gone over 1,200 yards once (2011). Those numbers are interesting, but it’s the snaps clause that is perhaps most intriguing. He has topped 90 percent of the Pats’ snaps twice in his career. He played 94.7 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2011, and then hit 91.3 percent in 2015. Of course, two of his last four seasons have been cut short due to injury, and Gronk hasn’t managed to play all 16 games since 2011.
Gronkowski is a dominant force when he’s on the field, finishing as the No. 1 overall tight end in 2014 and 2015. But his lengthy injury history makes Gronk a somewhat risky fantasy investment at his current ADP in the end of the second round. That being said, he now has over five million reasons to stay healthy this season.
3. Trevor Siemian works ahead of Paxton Lynch at Broncos OTAs
No one is going to mistake Siemian or Lynch as a viable option in 1QB redraft leagues. That said, the fantasy value of the rest of the Denver skill position players is closely tied to who’s under center. The early indication out of Denver is that Siemian is in the lead. While Lynch is the less polished of the two, he also is the player with the higher ceiling. His bigger arm would help the fantasy stock of both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Thomas saw plenty of volume last season, ranking 10th among wideouts in targets, but he finished a somewhat disappointing 18th in fantasy points. Sanders ranked two spots back at 20th despite tying for 13th in targets. We can’t pin this discrepancy solely on Siemian, but PFF’s 30th-ranked quarterback certainly didn’t help the cause. Fantasy owners should temper expectations for Thomas and Sanders if Siemian ends up prevailing in this position battle.
4. The Jets plan to use a committee at running back
Running back committees aren’t the dreaded fantasy killers they once were, but this news certainly isn’t a good thing for fantasy purposes. New Jets offensive coordinator John Morton said he’ll vary his plan from week to week, but the implication is that neither Matt Forte nor Bilal Powell will be in a feature role.
This isn’t a huge shock, given Forte is entering his age-31 season and Powell will turn 29 at the end of October. Forte out-touched Powell last season, but that ratio is likely to reverse this year. Powell is currently going two rounds ahead of Forte in early ADP as a seventh-round pick. He’s fine in that spot, but it’ll be tough to trust him as a consistent fantasy option unless Forte were to go down with an injury. With Forte banged up over the final month of last season, Powell averaged nearly 26 touches per game.
5. A big role for C.J. Prosise?
Word from the Seattle beat suggests the second-year running back will be the featured passing-down option and will serve as the change-of-pace option to Eddie Lacy. That is, of course, if Prosise can stay healthy. Last year, Prosise missed time in camp with a hamstring injury. He then sprained his wrist in Week 1 and missed the next six games. He then was out the final six games of the season and missed both of the Seahawks’ playoff games with a fractured scapula.
Injuries aside, Prosise is extremely dynamic when he’s on the field. He only touched the ball 47 times last year, but his upside was on full display in Week 11 when he ripped off a 72-yard score against Philadelphia. Lacy remains the back to own in Seattle, but Prosise is worth a dart at his current ADP in the early 10th round.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.