As Tampa Bay's first-round pick in 2012, Doug Martin wasn't exactly an unheralded NFL rookie. Still, no one expected him to make such a resounding impact, and so early.
In early November of his first NFL season, Martin transformed into a virtual star overnight. He carved up the Oakland Raiders for 251 yards and four touchdowns, including touchdown runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards.
Martin's fantasy value, meanwhile, skyrocketed. He went from fantasy waiver-fodder to one of the league's most reliable sources of points. In his impressive rookie year, he piled up 1,454 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
But since then, Martin's production has disappointed. Ankle, shoulder and knee injuries have slowed him down. The Bucs have changed head coaches, and the presence of Mike James and Bobby Rainey in the backfield have trimmed Martin's carries to some degree.
That's left many observers unsure of what to expect from Doug Martin. In 2015, will he be the bruising running back feared around the league, or will injuries and a crowded backfield limit his production?
The early signs in 2015 suggest that, barring injury, Martin will have a season reflecting the potential he displayed in 2012. While the Bucs offensive line is in need of repair, the offensive unit as a whole is built around Martin.
He functions as the lead back of a unit that will lean on the run while rookie quarterback Jameis Winston acclimates to the NFL, and Martin also serves as a passing target out of the backfield. Rainey and James will be used to spell Martin more than replace him, and even though the offensive line is below league average, Martin will get plenty of carries and touches.
That doesn't mean Martin will be an efficient player -- his yards-per-carry could suffer, and the offense may stagnate as a result. But in terms of volume, Martin will carry a heavy load. That's great news for fantasy players in need of points, but it might not translate to droves of success for Tampa Bay.
Nevertheless, the past two injury-plagued seasons shouldn't dictate what Martin does in 2015. It's been almost three years, but everyone remembers what he's capable of doing when healthy.
At the same time, his past injury troubles are a red flag for prospective buyers: If you bet on Doug Martin and lose, you were warned.