A typical Doug Martin run from Week 4 (USAT Images)
Here's the good news for Doug Martin owners: Your guy is already up to 100 carries through four weeks, and he's on pace for a ridiculous 428 touches this season.
It's tough to deliver a dud fantasy campaign with a workload like that. Almost impossible, really.
But here's the bad news: Martin has rushed for only 342 yards on those 100 attempts, and he's found the end zone just once. He was clearly a marked man on Sunday, in the first game of the Mike Glennon era. Tampa Bay's offense was, um...well, it was a rough watch. The rookie QB was predictably sketchy (4.5 Y/A, 2 INTs), and Martin was stuffed repeatedly. He finished with just 45 rushing yards on a whopping 27 carries against the Cards, a rare level of inefficiency.
Martin became the fifth back since the AFL-NFL merger to rush for less than 50 yards on 27 or more attempts. And he's now headed into a bye, so he'll help no one in Week 5.
Thus, in most fantasy leagues, buzzards are circling above whichever dying team holds Martin. His owners are off to a 1-3 start if they're lucky, 0-4 if they're not. A record like that might put you in the thick of the fight in the NFC East, but it won't play in any competitive fantasy format.
Clearly, a buying opportunity exists with Martin. I am not the right person to make the case to acquire him, however, because I just sold my last remaining Martin share this week, in advance of the Glennon show. (The deal was Martin and a defense for DeMarco and Orange Julius. It's a dynasty league; salaries are involved. Details would get tedious.) My rest-of-season expectations for the Bucs offense are very low — maybe not 1976-style low, but pretty damn low. I'm not eager to be associated with this franchise at this moment. While I appreciate the guaranteed workload that Martin offers, it sure seems like a bunch of 20-carry, 60-yard performances are in his future. Today, I do not regret the decision to sell. The offensive context in Tampa is miserable.
If you're more bullish on the Bucs for some reason, please spread your Schiano sunshine in comments. We'd all like a reason to believe.
• Washington and Oakland gave us a game that only a handcuff-obsessed fantasy manager could love. The 'Skins lost Alfred Morris to a rib injury, which opened the door for longtime tease Roy Helu Jr., who finished with 84 total yards and a TD. Helu could of course get interesting if Morris' injury is serious (though it's believed to be minor); he's a talented runner who'd already carved out a role in Washington's offense. But alas, the team has a bye next week.
Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden both checked out with health issues for Oakland (knee and hamstring), which left Rashad Jennings in charge. Jennings rumbled for 45 yards on 15 carries, and he also led the Raiders in receiving (8 REC, 71 yards). If he's still the featured back for Oakland in Week 5 ... well, Terrelle Pryor will probably lead this team in rushing. But Jennings would at least have an appealing match-up, at home against San Diego.
(By the way, if you'd never before had the experience of needing a big day from McFadden but getting five carries and an injury, WELCOME TO THE DMC THEATER OF PAIN. It's not like you weren't warned.)
Brian Hoyer, still winning (USAT Images)
Dwayne Bowe, who everyone seems to hate, caught his second touchdown of the season for KC. I can understand not wanting to tie yourself to an Alex Smith receiver, but let's not treat Bowe as a complete washout. It's not like we've never seen him produce a useful season in less-than-ideal surroundings.
• If the Browns are trying to tank, they're terrible at it. Cleveland has gone 2-0 after making the deal that supposedly brought the curtain down on their season. On Sunday, Brian Hoyer led his team to a 17-6 win over Cincinnati, opening with eight straight completions and finishing with 269 yards and two scores. One of the touchdowns belonged to Jordan Cameron, of course, because that's all he does. Josh Gordon didn't have a monster fantasy day (4-71-0), but he still gave us a highlight grab. Hoyer and his Browns host Buffalo on Thursday, and it wouldn't be much of a shock if he repeated Sunday's production.
• Just look at this nonsense from Adrian Peterson, resulting in a 60-yard score. He hopped over Ike Taylor near the line of scrimmage, then shed Lawrence Timmons with a stiff-arm, and then out-raced various other ancient Steelers to the end zone. So unfair. AP finished with 140 rushing yards and two TDs on 23 carries, making life a little easier for Matt Cassel on Sunday.
Also making life easier for Cassel: Greg Jennings. The veteran receiver did all the heaving lifting on this 70-yard first quarter touchdown pass, then caught another score in the second half. Despite Cassel's impressive Week 4 numbers (9.9 Y/A, 2 TDs, 0 INTs), it was Christian Ponder who received the post-game vote of confidence from his head coach. So we'll need to wait and see how this purple mess plays out; the Vikes are on bye following the Wembley game.
• Le'Veon Bell returned from his Lisfranc-ish foot injury in style, breaking the plane twice against Minnesota. He dominated the backfield work, carrying 16 times for 57 yards and catching four balls for 27. Ain't no committee here. It's all Bell. If you happen to play in a league with this man, there's no limit to what you should seek for Le'Veon via trade.
• Here's Scott Pianowski, with the proper takeaway from the Indy-Jacksonville tilt...
Upcoming starts and streams against the Jacksonville offensive wreckage: Rams, Broncos, Chargers, Niners.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) September 29, 2013
The Jaguars are scandalously bad these days. Justin Blackmon's return can only help so much.
What the heck is the betting line gonna be in the Denver game? 30? 35? I don't feel the Broncos should be allowed to count this as a win for bowl eligibility.
And while we're talking Denver...
• Peyton Manning's club eviscerated Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, 52-20. All the usual suspects had big days for the Broncos — Welker (2 TDs), Demaryius (2 TDs), Decker (88 yards), Knowshon (TD) — and Manning himself finished with another 327 yards and four scores. At this point, Peyton should have no trouble at all becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to twice reach the 40-TD plateau in a single season. (Brees and Marino are the other two.) Let's just hope the Chiefs keep winning, so there's no risk of a Denver sit-down in the fantasy playoffs.
• Jay Cutler had a notably poor day at Detroit, despite a useful-enough fantasy line (317 yards, 2 TDs). He tossed three picks, two of which ranked among the worst throws of Week 4. (Cutler's first INT was almost acceptable, the result of a great read by Louis Delmas. But the second was a terrible floater of a throw into coverage, and the third sailed a mile above his intended receiver.) The Bears defense allowed another huge yardage number (387) and an obscene point total (40). Twice in the first half, they forced fumbles that they didn't recover, and the Lions immediately scored. Reggie Bush had a stellar day in his return from injury, dancing around Chicago defenders for 173 total yards.
If there was a bright spot for Chicago, it was the performance of Alshon Jeffery, who became the latest receiver to feast on Detroit's Darius Slay. Jeffery caught five balls for 107 yards on 11 targets, hauling in a TD and a two-point conversion.
Reggie Bush, doing unfair things (USAT Images)
• This fourth-quarter throw by Matt Schaub was just ... gah. Catastrophic, obviously. Unthinkable. Surreal. That's the sort of thing that used to happen to the Texans back in, like, 2008. Just a terrible, awful, no-good throw. Schaub actually delivered an relatively helpful fantasy performance while giving away Sunday's game (355 yards, 2 TDs), not that this is any comfort to Houston fans.
• Fred Jackson emerged from the Bills' Week 4 win with a sprained MCL and CJ Spiller needed X-rays on his ankle. Another injury or two in Buffalo, and Antowain Smith will be back on the fantasy radar, I'm fairly sure. Jackson is talking like he expects to go in Week 5, for what it's worth. Spiller had 23 carries to Jackson's 16 on Sunday, but it was F-Jax who again found the end zone. Rookie receiver Robert Woods had his best day as a pro, catching four balls for 80 yards and a TD on eight targets.
• Philip Rivers made a handful of gorgeous throws en route to his second 400-yard passing performance of the season. He connected with Danny Woodhead for a pair of TDs, and hit Antonio Gates perfectly in stride on a late 56-yard score. Impressive day, all things considered. Rivers should feast on the Raiders next week. At this point, it's just clear that we have to let go the memories of 2012. Just forget 'em.
• As of this writing, we don't yet know the full extent of Jake Locker's hip injury, but it certainly doesn't have a 1-2 week vibe. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter next Sunday, when the Titans host the Chiefs. Fitz can't match Locker's physical skills, but he's also not the worst back-up in the player pool.
Locker was rolling before the injury, by the way, completing 18 of 24 throws for 149 yards and three scores (to three different receivers). With four games in the books, he's accounted for seven TDs (six pass, one rush) and he hasn't yet turned the ball over. Let's hope he gets right, soon.
• Andre Ellington rushed for 29 yards on four carries against the Bucs, plus he caught three balls for 22. Rashard Mendenhall, meanwhile, rushed 12 times for 21 yards, and he gained 13 yards on his three catches. And he fumbled. No way Ellington's role shrinks in the weeks ahead. If he wasn't in your waiver plans already, consider the pick-up.
PRIORITY ADDS FOR WEEK 5
QB Terrelle Pryor, Oak (vs. SD)
QB Brian Hoyer, Cle (vs. Buf)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ten (vs. KC)
RB Danny Woodhead, SD (at Oak)
RB Rashad Jennings, Oak (vs. SD)
RB Andre Ellington, Ari (vs. Car)
RB Roy Helu, Was (bye)
RB LeGarrette Blount, NE (at Cin)
WR Alshon Jeffery, Chi (vs. NO)
WR Nate Washington, Ten (vs. KC)
WR Robert Woods, Buf (at Cle)
WR Austin Pettis, STL (vs. Jac)
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