Get out the list of legendary fantasy performances. It's time to make another entry.
Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had a game for the ages in Sunday's 42-32 plundering of the Raiders, rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Three of Martin's scores came from long distance (45, 67 and 70 yards) and all four of them came in the second half. Martin tacked on four catches for 21 yards, just to make the PPR folk happy. Pretty snappy homecoming for the rookie, who's an Oakland native.
It all adds up to 51.20 points for Martin in basic Yahoo! scoring leagues, the highest total of the year and one of the largest fantasy scores of all time. Heck, it's the first time anyone's broken the 40 mark in 2012. You pause for a second and think of other legendary fantasy games, such as Michael Vick's six-touchdown assault of the Redskins on a Monday night in 2010 or Clinton Portis's five-score party against the Chiefs in 2003. Sometimes one player carries you to victory (or ensures your defeat) all on his own.
Martin's yardage total was actually higher before the Buccaneers inexplicably let him carry three times in the final 1:32 (totaling 14 yards in losses). Greg Schiano has a different view of the world sometimes, gamers. The Buccaneers also had a fumble on a LeGarrette Blount rushing play in the middle of the fourth quarter, though official blame for the miscue went to quarterback Josh Freeman. (You know the takeaway by now: LeGarrette Blount ruins everything. Remember the ill-fated Blount-a-Thon at the goal line against New Orleans? Forget power; goal-line success is all about quickness, decisiveness and rushing lanes.)
It wasn't a lost day for the Bucs passing game, either. Freeman threw for 247 yards and a couple of scores, and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams both cracked the end zone. Booty for everybody. Maybe Tampa Bay will miss superstar offensive guard Carl Nicks down the road, but his absence wasn't an issue Sunday. (The Raiders also had some fun in catch-up mode, led by Carson Palmer's predictable 39-61-414 line. We say predictable because he threw four touchdown passes, three in the final quarter, and three soul-crushing picks, two late in the fourth period. Tight End Brandon Myers had eight catches and a couple of scores.)
Martin's first month of pro ball was ordinary, but he's looked like a completely different back since Tampa Bay's Week 5 bye. He collected 131 total yards and 5.8 yards per carry against KC in Week 6, then went for 122 total yards and a score (5.3 YPC) against the Saints a week later. And everyone saw his public breakout against the Vikings on the Thursday night game from Week 8: 29-145 rushing, 3-79 receiving, two touchdowns.
Martin's full package of skills were on display in Oakland. He has the power for inside attempts, the vision and burst to get to the second level, and the raw speed to hit home runs. He understands angles very well, too. Obviously we can't expect this sort of eruption to happen regularly, but there's nothing fluky about the player who posted these pinball stats.
The schedule looks reasonable for Martin the rest of the way: SD, @CAR, ATL, @DEN, PHI, NO, STL. There's no reason to think he can't be a Top 10 back, easy, over the final two months. I slotted him No. 5 on the last running back Shuffle Up.
And one final word about offensive line play: while we like to see a path-clearing stud at any of the front five slots, the guards are generally less important than the two tackles and the center. Tampa would love to have Nicks back tomorrow, but his loss probably doesn't hurt as much as it would at a different position.
To anyone who's been on the Martin bandwagon all year, go ahead and take your victory lap. And to anyone who got trampled by this Bay Area Beatdown, let's hear your tale of woe. As for the non-affected, perhaps you'll prefer to relieve other high scores of yesteryear. Is there a Volek-to-Bennett sympathizer in the house?
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