Pictures of the Buccaneers' running backs during OTAs and mini-camp.
Scott Smith gave his fantasy insight on Doug Martin earlier this week and it is certainly worth checking out. Though Martin will miss the first three games of the season, his likely role as the Bucs' starter and number of touches make him a potentially great pick in the middle rounds.
We're going to take it back to some of the final rounds in this edition of Fantasy Focus. Your starting lineup is set, you've built a strong bench of flex wide receivers and mid-round running backs with bye week fill-in potential and there are just a few more spots to fill. While these might not be the most exciting rounds in the draft, they can have a significant effect on just how your season turns out.
The Buccaneers have two running backs going in these late rounds, and a third running back who is certainly a flyer, but could end up having some value this season depending on how the Buccaneers season plays out. Let's get right to it.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers Average Draft Position (ESPN): 141.9
Position (RB) Draft Ranking: 50
2016 Fantasy Point Production (Standard Format):81
2016 Position (RB) Rank: 54
Photos from Jacquizz Rodgers' 2016 campaign.
Jacquizz Rodgers was the Buccaneers highest-scoring fantasy running back last season, but was still outside of the Top 50 RB point-scorers. With a healthy Doug Martin back in the picture in Tampa Bay, Rodgers' fantasy draft stock mirrors his 2016 rank.
Rodgers major value this year will be for the players who did go with the low-risk, high-ceiling play of drafting Martin in the middle rounds. Martin owners can benefit by also drafting Rodgers as a handcuff when the teen rounds roll around.
A fantasy "handcuff" is the immediate backup for one of your starters. The benefit of doing this is that if your starter is struggling or injured during the season, you already have his replacement on your bench and ready to plug in. In the case of Martin-Rodgers, you have the added benefit of having a potential running back starter for the first three weeks when Martin is suspended. Yes, you likely will have other running backs drafted in the first few rounds who will start for you during that time, but using Rodgers as a flex starter, having drafted him in Round 13 is some substantial value.
It is hard to say how the Buccaneers will utilize Rodgers when Martin is back in the fold, but Rodgers should have the opportunity to show what he can do in those first few weeks. The Buccaneers open against the Dolphins, who allowed 22.3 fantasy points per game to running backs last season (1.1 more than the league average). Things get tougher in Weeks Two and Three against the Bears and Vikings, who gave up the sixth and seventh fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs last season, respectively.
RB Charles Sims Average Draft Position (ESPN): 146.2
Position (RB) Draft Ranking: 54
2016 Fantasy Point Production (Standard Format):61
2016 Position (RB) Rank: 64
Sims' situation is a bit harder to judge. He is healthy this year and has had success both on the field and in fantasy lineups in the past, but he has had his best days as a complementary back often used in passing situations or third down.
With an ADP just a few behind Rodgers, he sits in the same handcuff situation for Martin owners. Like Jacquizz Rodgers, Sims should see some increase in touches when Martin is out. Sims will also likely maintain those touches as a third-down back even when Martin returns to action, whereas Rodgers' situation is cloudier after Week Three.
Sims only played in seven games last season, but was a huge fantasy sleeper in 2015, despite Doug Martin finishing that year ranked third for running back scoring. Sims finished 19th in the same year in standard leagues and 16th in PPR leagues, putting up 529 rushing years, 561 receiving yards, 51 catches and four total touchdowns.
If he can stay healthy again in 2017, there is no reason that he can't get back to these numbers even if he is playing limited snaps. Though Rodgers could get Martin's carries through the first few weeks, Sims could be the Buccaneer running back to get in the late rounds because of his ability to contribute all season long and his past success in his same role.
RB Jeremy McNichols Average Draft Position (ESPN): N/A
Position (RB) Draft Ranking: 75
2016 Fantasy Point Production (Standard Format):N/A
2016 Position (RB) Rank: N/A
It is very unlikely that McNichols will be taken in any regular-sized fantasy leagues, but he is a name to keep in mind as the season progresses. The Buccaneers had a rash of injuries at the position last year, and (knock on wood) if that happens again, McNichols could be a name that fantasy owners quickly learn.
In his last two college seasons, McNichols totaled 3,046 rushing yards at 5.5 yards per carry. In those two years, he also had 88 receptions for 934 yards. Oh yeah, and 53 total touchdowns.
He might not see much action on the field this year and shouldn't be on your draft board, but keep an eye on him should the Buccaneers' situation change this season. He could be a name that fantasy analysts talk a lot about in the seasons to come.