Fancy fantasy football: Doug Martin, Blaine Gabbert

      August 23, 2012 @ 17:45:13 PDT


I'm going to be in the minority on this. That's fine. Often, I relish that position. I enjoy playing the skeptic, but I don't just automatically assume that role. So I'm trying to figure out how much I'm a believer in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie running back.

Is anyone else even a little unimpressed by Doug Martin?

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert hidden in Blaine sight

Many NFL Draft pundits and sites lauded him for his toughness and the many things he does well. Can't argue. Some evaluators cautioned not to get caught up in assessments which conclude that no part of his game is exceptional. The Bucs' stuff has piled up the hype on the 23-year-old from Day 1.

He seems to be a solid player. But I'd like to know what's great about him. In the limited time that I've watched him, I don't think that I've seen what that is, besides his motor.

That trait may take Martin a good distance, but probably not quite into the third round, for me, which is why I haven't ended up with him anywhere except in the RSO Experts League. That has a dynasty setup with a rookie draft, in which I had the second overall pick.

The crowd loves Martin. There's a pretty good chance that I'm off the mark. At this stage, all I've seen is a shorter, better version of Michael Pittman, however, so I've passed.

He has an outstanding opportunity right away and a potentially bright future. Until something changes my mind, though, I'm willing to let others discover how ready he is to take advantage and how brilliant he'll be. And I'd be pretty happy to take LeGarrette Blount as an RB4 or RB5.

***

It seems too easy to say that Blaine Gabbert may surprise people this year after he was 13-for-16 for 112 yards, two touchdowns and no INTs in the Jacksonville Jaguars' second preseason game. The New Orleans Saints could've stood to put a bounty or two out on the guy in the first half of that one.

But I've been optimistic about Gabbert's 2012 outlook for some time. He's smart and accurate, and he has a superb arm. I figured that he could make substantial progress in his second year.

I think that's especially true in his case because he'll have had a full offseason to work with his club. It couldn't have been an easy transition to the NFL for him initially; he operated a shotgun-spread offense at Missouri, and last year's lockout robbed him of a chance to work extensively on the adaptation with his teammates and coaches.

I found pretty informative, too, Ron Jaworski's in-depth analysis of the second-year passer in the analyst's summer series of ESPN segments in which he ranked all the starting QBs in the league. He indicated that Gabbert had immense room for improvement in his pocket presence, and that he wouldn't last long if he didn't make strides quickly.

There have been plenty of positive reports about Gabbert's maturation since last year. In limited preseason action, he hasn't looked anything like the scared freshman who was overwhelmed and overmatched in 2011.

I'm not saying that this kid will go bonkers. But he has some quality receivers in Justin Blackmon, Marcedes Lewis and (maybe) Laurent Robinson, plus the backs. And Gabbert will play 16 games, barring an injury.

I think that he should end up with low-end QB2 numbers in 12-team leagues, at least. OK, nothing big: If you passed on Gabbert, you aren't going to regret it. In leagues that are any deeper, though, he becomes a little valuable, and he may hold appeal to dynasty leaguers. My suspicion is that most fantasy owners have already written him off, however.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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