Spotlight - RB Curtis Martin, New York Jets
Posted 8/11 by Jason Wood and Chase Stuart,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
Curtis Martin is officially the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL running backs.
...leading the league in rushing (1,697 yards)
...finishing 4th among fantasy RBs
...setting a career high for carries (371)
...setting a career high for YPC (4.6)
...producing nine (9) 100-yard rushing games
...setting an NFL record with his 10th consecutive 1,000+ yard season to start a career
...scoring 14 TDs (7th in the NFL)
...Martin is being drafted, on average, 20th among RBs according to Antsports.
Let's look at this objectively. Even if we assume that his 2004 season marks a career year and won't be matched in 2005, Martin has NEVER FINISHED AS LOW AS RB20 IN HIS 10 YEAR CAREER.
And while I understand his age and career workload may be risks, they've been risks for each of the last few seasons so why is THIS the year he's going to finally slow down?
And let's not forget new OC Mike Heimerdinger LOVES to run the ball.
I believe there's a huge misconception about Heimerdinger. The media has been so focused on Heimerdinger's promise to stretch the field and use more spread passing formations and shotgun that they've neglected a very important fact of his coaching tenure. He crafts an offense to suit the team's personnel. Yes, he helped turn Tennessee into a wide open passing team, but that was only after Eddie George had lost one too many steps and that was the only alternative. Remember that when George was healthy, Heimerdinger was calling the plays for some of Eddie's heaviest workloads. And as long as Herm Edwards is the head coach, the Jets are going to run the ball with abandon regardless of how they approach passing situations.
The only sane reason to let Martin fall as far as his ADP suggests is a belief that every player, no matter how great, succumbs to age eventually. And while I agree that no one is going to see it coming, I believe Martin's draft position MORE than accounts for the risk inherent in his age and career workload.
- Martin is on his way to the Hall of Fame, having run for 1,000 yards for 10 consecutive seasons and finished no worse than RB18 in any season to boot
- At 31 years old, Martin led the league in rushing and set career highs in YPC and carries, why should 32 years old be any different?
- New OC Mike Heimerdinger is a big proponent of a power running game, as evidence by his play calling in Tennessee when Eddie George was still in his prime
- The team's right tackle situation is in flux, can Adrian Jones really replace Kareem McKenzie?
- Chad Pennington is recovering from shoulder surgery, a setback or prolonged recovery could derail the balance and overall productivity of the entire offense
- At some point, Martin's historic workload (4th all time in rushes) is going to catch up to him
10 years. 10 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. 10 straight top 18 fantasy finishes. Coming off arguably his best year where he not only finished as RB4, but led the league in rushing and set a career high for carries and YPC. Martin seems to have found the fountain of youth, and far be it for me to predict this season as the one when age finally catches up to him. If Martin is available in the 3rd round and you pass on him, it's going to be someone else's gain. Draft accordingly.
Chase Stuart's Thoughts
Itíd be easy to use this space to mention that Curtis Martin has had one of the best careers in NFL history. Heís got the fourth most carries ever, the fourth most rushing yards ever, won a rushing title and led his team to the playoffs in five different seasons. He tied Barry Sandersí record last year by rushing for 1,000 each of the first ten years of his career. Martinís even managed to get better over time: rushing for 6,550 yards his first five seasons and 6,816 his last five. But what might be more useful from a fantasy perspective is to take a look at why Curtis Martinís 2004 season might not be much of a fluke. Below represents his per game production in the four years under Herman Edwards:
2004: 106.1 rushing yards, 4.6 ypc
2003: 94.6 rushing yards, 4.2 ypc
2002: 83 rushing yards, 4.3 ypc
2001: 94.6 rushing yards, 4.5 ypc
In 2002 and 2003, Martin didnít play very well when Vinny Testaverde was under center; in 2002, Martin was hurt the first four weeks and Testaverde played poorly. In 2003, Testaverde was unable to effectively run the offense, and defenses keyed on Martin. Since Penningtonís the QB this year, itís more useful to look at Martinís production when Penningtonís healthy. And whenever heís been healthy, Martin seems like a lock for over 100 total yards per game.
Martinís extremely durable, and the center of the Jets offense. Heíll certainly get a reduction in touches this year, but the Jets overall improvements on offense (TE Doug Jolley, WR Laveranues Coles and OC Mike Heimerdinger) should make Martin an even bigger threat when he does touch the ball.
- Martinís one of the best conditioned athletes in the NFL, and heís able to handle a ton of carries and remain successful.
- The Jets offense has revolved around Martin: He was the only player with 400+ touches last season.
- Martinís one of the best RBs in NFL history, and has rushed for an average of 1,334 yards per season.
- The Jets offensive line is excellent at run blocking. While Kareem McKenzie is no longer on the team, Martin runs equally well to all sides and the Jets believe new RT Adrian Jones will be successful.
- With LaMont Jordan in Oakland, there are no worries about anyone stealing carries from Martin.
- Martinís thirty-two years old and coming off a season where he led the NFL in touches. Will he break down this year?
- Despite the ten touchdowns last season, he only scored two the previous year.
- Curtis Martinís not much of a breakaway threat Ė his longest carry last year was just 25 yards.
- Will new OC Mike Heimerdinger use Martin as often as Paul Hackett did?
- Will Pennington be healthy and productive for week 1?
There hasnít been a more productive or reliable RB in football than Curtis Martin. His 8,280 rushing yards the past six years is the most in the NFL, and he ranks fourth in rushing (2,990 yards) since 2003. Four times he has ranked in the top five in fantasy points, and never has Martin ranked lower than eighteenth. His tremendous work ethic leaves little doubt that heíll once again be on the top of his game in 2005. Newcomer Derrick Blaylock should help spell Martin and add a nice burst of speed and power, but is doubtful to become a goal-line vulture.
Martin had 412 touches last year, the sixth time he has topped 385 touches in a season. New York will look to pass more this year, but remember that Martin and Jordan combined for 464 carries last year. With Jordan gone, Martin wonít lose many carries overall even if the Jets do follow through with their plans to pass more. As long as Martin, Pennington and C Kevin Mawae are healthy, Martin should be able to average over 4.0 yards per carry.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
Everything fell into place for Martin last year, and while I don't think he'll duplicate his numbers from last year, he should outperform his draft position (hes going mid-late 2ND?!) and be a great value pick this year. With Pennington coming in healthy, the return of Coles, and the fact that McCariens has worked with Heimerdinger in his Tennessee days, I think the passing game will be more effective this year, lightening Martins load a bit and keeping him fresh throughout the year.
Old RBs who are still productive drive me nuts. Are they about to fall off a cliff or what? I worried about that last year and avoided Martin, despite his track record. d'oh. This year I might get bit the other way, but am willing to take a chance on one last good year, although nothing like last year of course.
Every year I expect Martin to hit the wall, and every year I am proven wrong.
Martin had a career year in 2004, and we can't expect that kind of production in 2005. But there is no reason why Martin can't have yet another solid year. I do feel that Edwards will try and limit his carries to keep him fresh. I just don't see him getting 370 carries again.
Curtis Martin Projections
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