The Tampa Buccaneers are trying. They are trying to improve. They trying to build a team around generational quarterback prospect Jameis Winston.
First and foremost, the Buccaneers made efforts to improve the offensive line, it remains one of the team’s glaring weaknesses entering the 2015 season. The loss of right tackle Demar Dotson until sometime between Week 3 and Week 7 is a huge blow. And despite Doug Martin’s alleged resurgence, the ground game will take the biggest hit and the team will be forced to air it out more. His skyrocketing ADP in the face of this adversity is a giant red flag. Fantasy owners seem to be willfully ignoring his grossly inefficient 2013 and 2014 campaigns, while overvaluing his stellar rookie season and (2!!!) impressive preseason carries. Seemingly overnight, Martin’s average draft position has risen from from the seventh round to the fifth round (and still rising) in MyFantasyLeague.com money league drafts.
DeMarco Murray CloneThe film crowd sees Charles Sims as a slow-motion C.J. Spiller. Bucs RB coach Tim Spencer sees flashes of Matt Forte, whom he was credited for “discovering” while he was coaching under Lovie Smith in Chicago. While Shawn Siegele and the metrics crowd see him as being comparable to DeMarco Murray. Physically, Sims is a Murray clone. They also both accumulated over 1,500 receiving yards in college and even have matching 11.46 (33rd-percentile) Agility Scores, so the Murray comparison is not just appropriate, Sims is a facsimile.
Doug Martin Is Over
If we were using the word “over” in the context of professional wrestling, where it simply means generating a reaction from the crowd in some capacity, Doug Martin would have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately the last two years of career inefficiency actually happened, despite what an ADP boosted by two carries is telling us.
Doug Martin posted a -30.0 and -36.7 Production Premium (PlayerProfiler‘s situation-agnostic efficiency metric) from 2013-2014, last among NFL running backs over that period. A lot of excuses have been made for him in that time, ranging from offensive line play to the injuries he’s sustained to his shoulder, knee and ankle. Despite his first round pedigree and impressive workout metrics from 2012, it is looking more and more plausible that Martin was never equipped to be a productive NFL workhorse back. Looking back pre-NFL career, Martin’s 24.3-percent (38th-percentile College Dominator Rating) and a 4.9 (15th-percentile) Yards Per Carry in the Mountain
Whack West bounced like warning buoys on the horizon.
What Could Have Been in 2014
Charles Sims was the victim of a number of unfortunate situations that kept him from achieving rookie year success. He started the season on the PUP list after fracturing his ankle in the preseason, which affected him throughout the year once he finally saw the field in Week 10. Had he been healthy enough to contribute once Doug Martin sprained his knee in Week 1 and subsequently missed the next two games, there’s a chance he could be Tampa’s starting RB right now. His rookie year efficiency numbers would’ve at least looked better had he not been injured.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford also never had the chance to run the team’s offense, having two stents placed in an artery near his heart after Tampa’s third preseason game. He returned to part-time duty not long after that, but took an indefinite leave of absence when his health didn’t sufficiently improve by late September. It’s fair to wonder how much better the offense would’ve been if Tedford had been able to run it, and how it would’ve looked with Charles Sims as the lead dog. With new OC Dirk Koetter being an experienced and credible coordinator at the NFL level, there won’t be much of a dropoff in 2015 from what the offense would’ve looked like last year had illness not befallen Tedford.
Sims City – A Fantasy Football Value Town
Every fantasy football conversation needs to be a value conversation. It’s the basis of the argument that Jameis Winston consistently being available in the last round of fantasy drafts, despite being the top overall pick in the 2015 reality draft, makes him fantasy football’s most undervalued rookie. It’s also the basis for the argument that Charles Sims represents a better fantasy football value in 2015 than Doug Martin.
An MFL ADP of 137.7 (and plummeting) pegs Charles Sims as a 12th round pick. Tampa Bay also projects to enjoy the softest full-season schedule in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, which should help quell some of the concerns brought about by the play of the offensive line. The Bucs not picking up Doug Martin’s fifth year option tells me that he is not one of the NFL’s entrenched starting backs. If he struggles early in the season, his role on offense will quickly evaporate. And while Martin has a 49-catch season on his NFL resume, Jameis Winston’s passing numbers are going to improve when we see Sims play a bigger role on offense than most are anticipating.
So spin that wheel, cut that pack and roll them loaded dice. Bring on the dancin’ girls and put the champagne on ice. Because with my final RB selection in drafts, I’m going in to Sims City.
Ray Marzarella is a professional wrestler on the independent circuit and a lifelong New York Giants fan. You can follow him on the Twitter: @rayraymarz