Doug Martin owns top RB grade this season
Doug Martin’s 2012 burst onto the scene as a rookie running back thrust one of the world’s most unfortunate nicknames—Muscle Hamster—into our collective consciousness.
Martin was a first-round pick that year, and graded well as a rookie. Despite topping 1,450 rushing yards, though, his entire season was centered around one dominant game against Oakland in which he tallied 251 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while forcing 12 missed tackles.
That game was the best of Martin, but it was a performance he has rarely come close to matching, and was never able to produce consistently. Even in that season, he had three poorly graded games and was not consistently dominant. Since then, he has looked like that year may have been a fluke entirely. In the past two seasons, he has earned just three games graded over +1.0, as injuries and poor play have mired him in mediocrity.
So far in 2015, though, we are looking at a different player. In five games he has posted five consecutive positively-graded performances, and if anything, appears to be getting better as the season progresses. The yardage totals tell a similar story, with his past two outings topping triple digits, and this most recent mark of 123 rushing yards being his best since Week 2 of the 2013 season.
Against Jacksonville, Martin’s +4.0 grade was the best mark of his entire career, actually eclipsing that epic performance against the Raiders in his rookie year.
While his rushing performance has been up and down throughout his career, pass-protection has always been an issue; but this season, he is perfect in that regard, yet to allow a single pressure in 20 snaps. When you add in the fact that he has caught all 11 of the passes sent in his direction so far this season, and added 93 receiving yards on them, you’ve got a player that is hitting his best form and finds himself sitting atop the PFF running back rankings.
Right now, only Matt Forte has more rushing yards than the Tampa Bay halfback (438 to 407), and with games like he produced on Sunday, Martin could remain at the sharp end of the rankings all season long.