PORT ARTHUR —
Doug Martin, given the colorful nickname “Muscle Hamster” by teammates at Boise State, had a game for the ages last week. The rookie ran for 251 yards and four TDs while catching four passes for 21 yards. In standard ESPN scoring leagues, that’s good for 51 fantasy points.
In my fantasy league, which is PPR, Martin went for an even 60 points. I only bring that up because two weeks prior to his big day, my team scored 68 points total for an entire week. Doug Martin could have almost singlehandedly beaten my team. That’s just nuts.
With that performance, Martin has also established himself as the premiere running back in fantasy football right now. Move over, Arian Foster. Step aside NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson. The Muscle Hamster is muscling you out. Martin has rushed for 794 yards this season and caught 20 passes for 245 yards. He’s scored eight total TDs, seven on the ground and one through the air. That puts him one point ahead of Foster in standard scoring leagues.
It’s an impressive start for Martin, but where does his Week 9 performance rank among the all-time fantasy greats? Turns out, it’s pretty high.
The best performance in the fantasy football era was by Denver’s Clinton Portis, who torched the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003 for 218 yards on 22 carries and five TDs. He also caught two passes for 36 yards and would have given him 54 fantasy points that game.
Second on the list is Seattle’s Shaun Alexander, who had 139 rushing yards and four TDs to go with three catches for 92 yards and one TD against Minnesota in a Sunday night game in 2002. He would have scored 52 points in a standard ESPN scoring league.
Cincinnati’s Corey Dillon put up 51 points in 1997, when he had 246 rushing yards and four TDs along with two catches for 30 yards against Tennessee. Going further back, San Francisco great Jerry Rice caught 13 passes for 225 yards and five TDs in a game against the Atlanta Falcons in 1990 that was good for 52 points.
The record for most fantasy points since 1960 (before fantasy football was a thing) is Houston’s own Billy Cannon, who had 216 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards to go with five TDs in a 1961 game against the New York Titans. That gave him an astonishing 62 fantasy points.
Chicago Hall of Famer Gale Sayers is second on the all-time list with his excellent 1965 game where he scored six TDs (four rushing, one receiving and one return), had 113 rushing yards and two catches for 89 yards. Sayers would have scored 55 points in standard leagues, but that’s without the return TD. If you add that in, he would have been just a point behind Cannon’s great day.
Buffalo’s Cookie Gilchrist is the only other player to top Portis’ big day in 2003, when he scored five TDs for Buffalo in 1963.That’s good for 54 points and came against the New York Jets.
What about those rushing record breakers, you say? Well, Adrian Peterson’s 296 yard performance in 2007 is on there, but he only scored three TDs and lost a fumble, so his fantasy total was a measly 46 points.
Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison had 47 points in 2009, when he ran for 286 yards and three TDs. Baltimore’s Jamal Lewis couldn’t even crack 45 points with his 295 yard, two TD day in 2003.
Where does the top QB stand? That’d be Michael Vick, who had 49 points while with Philadelphia in 2010, throwing for 333 yards and four TDs while rushing for 80 yards and two more TDs. George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle were each a point behind Vick with 48, as Tittle threw for 505 yards and seven TDs in 1962 against Washington and Blanda threw for 418 yards and seven TDs against the New York Titans in ’61.
In a PPR format, Terrell Owens’ 20 catch, 283 yard day in 2000 against Chicago would have rated 54 points and would have tied Brandon Marshall’s 2009 game against Indianapolis when he caught 21 passes for 200 yards and two TDs.
Rice’s day in ’90 would still be tops, however, among receivers. Jimmy Smith’s 15 catch, 291 yard performance with three TDs in 2000 against Baltimore would have come close, but Rice still ends up two points ahead.
What’s crazy, too, is that of the top players on this list, Martin, Dillon and Sayers were all rookies when they went crazy. Martin’s game also bookends a great stretch of games coming out of Tampa Bay’s bye that has seen him score double-digit points in four straight weeks.
Even more impressive is that Martin is having so much success after his offensive line has been ravaged by injuries. The Bucs were without both starting guards entering the season, as Davin Joseph was lost for the season with a knee injury in training camp and Carl Nicks was placed on injured reserve last week with a toe injury.
How will that affect Martin going forward? The Muscle Hamster has all but sidelined Tampa Bay’s starter last season LeGarrette Blount, who only has 35 carries and 121 yards this season. Martin has seven of the team’s nine rushing TDs this season while Blount hasn’t scored since Week 5.
The Bucs under new head coach Greg Schiano want to run the ball, so Martin will probably continue to get carries. He’s on pace now for 308 carries, which is still a huge workload for a rookie. In NFL history, only 12 backs have carries the ball more in their rookie season.
For now, though, Martin appears to be in a groove. He’s averaging over 5 yards per carry and has contributed in the passing game, too. That adds up to a very valuable player who should swing a few fantasy championships this season.
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