Today's assignment is to find you a superman in the Sunshine State. Miami's go-to back is a veteran, Reggie Bush. Tampa's new do-it-all source is a touted rookie, Doug Martin. Who's going to be the South Florida Flash in 2012? Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski don't agree on the rank, and they've decided to bring the debate to our forum.
B-Fun to Open: Ray Rice touched the rock a combined 744 times and scored 45 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Rutgers. His coach then was new Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano. And when you hear about how Schiano plans to transform the Bucs offense into a ground-heavy attack and that Doug Martin's game, in many ways, resembles Rice's, how can you not get excited about Martin's fantasy prospects in '12?
Martin is a plug-n-play rookie, rivaling Trent Richardson in terms of NFL readiness. He's a far more complete back than LeGarrette Blount, especially in pass protection and as a receiver. In OTAs, Schiano praised Martin's vision as a runner, calling it a "gift." RB coach Earnest Byner praised his blitz pickup, saying, "… I don't think that's going to be an issue …" If you are clinging to the notion that Martin is going to have to pay his dues on the sidelines behind Blount, you are missing the pirate ship.
Shortly after he settled in with the Bucs, Schiano served notice to Blount about his ball security issues, saying, "No one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football." Schiano also said that he believes in the idea of a "bell-cow" back, harkening back to success he had in his days at Rutgers leaning on Rice. "… I do believe if you have the right (running back), you just feed him," said Schiano. If you are still wondering who "Mr. Right" is for the Bucs, it's not the guy with fumbling and pass protection issues.
The Bucs have invested heavily in their offensive line the past couple years and their strength lies in the running game. With a solid line in front of him, and the additions of Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark to keep defenses honest with the passing game, the Bucs should be able to afford Martin plenty of daylight to work with. And there's a good chance his role will net him 250-300 touches.
In Miami, under new head coach Joe Philbin, the plan is for Reggie Bush to carry the rock fewer times than last season (219 carries) while moving him around to get him more involved in the passing game. Considering that the Packers never ranked higher than 19th in the league in RB rushing attempts in Philbin's five seasons as the offensive coordinator, Bush's increased involvement in the passing game is essential for his fantasy value. But with a suspect offensive line and an unsettled QB situation, there's certainly reason to be pessimistic about how lucrative the aerial aspect can be.
In the battle for Florida fantasy backfield supremacy, youth is served. Take the touches and roll with Martin.
Pianow to Close: Maybe it's the Doc Rivers or the Dusty Baker sympathizer in me, but I try not to make too many hard assumptions with young players. Every first-round pick has press clippings from here to eternity. Some of them make it right away, some don't.
Let's not forget Mark Ingram (ho hum) was the top running back picked last April; C.J. Spiller went ninth overall in 2010 (Ryan Mathews just three picks later); Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown and Beanie Wells were the first-round calls in 2009. No one on this list did very much as a rookie, and trust me, much was expected from all of them. The ledger is covered with red ink.
Bush knows all about high expectations; he was the second overall pick in the 2006 draft class and it took him a while to figure out the pro game. His YPC was a joke for three years (3.6, 3.7, 3.8) before things started to click. He's averaged 5.6, 4.2 and 5.0 yards a tote over the last three seasons. While Bush is never going to challenge for a rushing title, at least he finally has a clue in how to run in the NFL.
If the Dolphins want to use Bush more as a receiver, I'm on board. Get No. 22 in space, let him take on less defenders and punishment. Keep Bush on the field. Pass plays go for more yardage anyway. And with the Dolphins looking like the weakest AFC East team on paper, Miami might be playing from behind a lot in 2012. I'm glad their primary back fits the spread offense nicely.
Joe Philbin's play-calling tendencies from Green Bay also don't concern me. He's not dealing with the same type of talent, not even close. Aaron Rodgers isn't walking through that door; Greg Jennings isn't walking through that door; Jordy Nelson isn't walking through that door. The best coaches work players-to-scheme, not the other way around, and I figure Miami's new staff will eventually do the same. You have to make the best with the talent you have in-house.
Bush might have been the NFL's most overrated skill player in the New Orleans days, but it sets him up to be an underrated commodity this year. Bush graded out as the No. 13 fantasy back in basic scoring last year, and for better or for worse, he's the only elite skill player the Dolphins currently have. I'll stick with the devil I know. Buzzy young players seldom come at a friendly cost, and I'm all about value at the draft table.
Now that the Yahooligans have had their say, it's time for you to chime in. Assuming the same cost, who would you select first in a 2012 fantasy draft: Doug Martin or Reggie Bush? Give your answer, and explain your reasoning, in the comments.
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