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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had an up-and-down season, but one player who hasn't has been Doug Martin. After two years of plodding, unremarkable production, the fourth-year back looks like his rookie self again and now leads the league in rushing yards with 1,305 on 256 carries. His 5.1 yards per carry are tops in the NFL for backs with more than 200 carries, and he's added 25 catches for 205 yards despite taking a back seat to Charles Sims on passing downs for the entire season.
It's a surprising turnaround. Martin wasn't just injured the previous two years, he was also pretty much terrible. His vision had disappeared, he lacked patience behind the line of scrimmage and he could no longer make people his miss. Poor offensive line play didn't help him, but he was consistently making the line look worse too. This year, the opposite is true: he led the league in broken tackles just a few weeks ago (I'm not sure that's changed, but I doubt it) and regularly makes a man miss in the backfield to turn nothing into something
Unsurprisingly, he's also become a fantasy football mainstay. With 181 fantasy points in a standard format, he's the third-most valuable running back -- and he'd be higher if not for touchdowns. While he's not generally a value play in daily fantasy -- he's correctly pegged as expensive there -- he's been very valuable in more traditional formats.
But most importantly, he's been valuable for the Bucs. He's provided an element of continuity when Jameis Winston has been off, while the passing game often works off the threat of the Dougernaut. The Bucs know this, which is why they're seventh in the league in rushing attempts despite having to play catchup repeatedly.
This also means the Bucs' back should be a priority re-signing this offseason. Sure, he'll be expensive -- but the team has plenty of holes to worry about filling without unnecessarily creating another one by letting a very good running back in the prime of his career walk in free agency.