Usually on Tuesdays, I give one of my waiver wire pickups their own article and provide a little bit more insight as to why that player is worth your time and attention. With the Buccaneers losing yet another running back after Mike James suffered a fractured left ankle against the Dolphins Monday night, I’d like to give the Bucs backfield some attention this week instead.
I feel your pain if you drafted Doug Martin high this year. I drafted him third overall in one of my leagues thinking he’d be the ultimate PPR weapon. Even before Martin was lost for the year with a shoulder injury, his year was a complete dud. After averaging 4.9 yards a carry and 91 rushing yards a game in 2012, Martin’s average dropped a full yard to 3.9. His rushing yards a game average also dropped to 76 yards. Not exactly top-5 numbers.
When Martin was gone, I made a trade for James. It looked like it was going to work out fine. Against the Seahawks; 28 rushes for 158 yards? Yeah that was fine. Up against the Dolphins, James was off to a hot start with 5 rushes for 41 yards. An 8.2 ypc average? I was off to another win. Or so I thought. Dolphins LB Dannell Ellerbe made sure James was out for the rest of the game when he landed right on James’ ankle when the Bucs were at the one-yard line. It wasn’t on purpose of course, but it’s hard not to think that. My dreams of another win were carted off the field. The Bucs say James is “out indefinitely,” but it might as well be the rest of the year with fantasy playoffs right around the corner.
So now that Martin and James are out, it’s hard predicting what the backfield will look like heading into Week 11. Brian Leonard was thrust into the spotlight after James was done for the evening and looked good in the beginning. But at 29 years old, Leonard isn’t the player he used to be. He did carry the ball 20 times and chipped in 2 receptions, but his 3.1 yards per carry average on the year isn’t all that impressive. He rushed for 59 yards Monday night.
Eventually Bobby Rainey got more work and looked much better in limited time, which isn’t much of a surprise. He’s younger and faster than the aging Leonard, which resulted in him putting up 45 yards off 8 carries and a touchdown that wound up giving Tampa their first win of the year.
The Bucs could look at running backs left in free agency, although none of them will do much in the way of giving the team a viable running option over what they have now. Cedric Benson? Beanie Wells? I don’t think so. If the Bucs decide against this route, we could be looking at a full-blown committee between Leonard and Rainey. HC Greg Schiano hinted this scenario when he said he will use both running backs in a timeshare. Although this is Schiano, so take whatever he says with a grain of salt. Due to experience, Leonard should be named the starter and get most of the early work. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rainey wind up getting the most out of his touches. Consider this another version of what the Cardinals are doing with Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington. For now, neither Leonard and Rainey are worth anything more than a low-tier flex option. However, both are worth owning in redraft leagues until we see how they are used against the Falcons.