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Fantasy Extra: Spotlighting Martin, Miller, Ingram

Senior Fantasy Writer
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- We're all rooting for Doug Martin, Lamar Miller and Mark Ingram in some capacity this year as Fantasy owners. All three were drafted in the majority of leagues, and we hope they all reach their full potential.

These three running backs were on display in South Florida this year for preseason action. Miller plays for the Dolphins, so he was at home, but he faced off against Martin and Ingram in the final two preseason outings. I spoke with all three running backs to bring you some inside information on what to expect for this season.

All have the chance to be starters in the majority of leagues. Martin is already a star, and he was drafted in the first round, but Miller is a breakout candidate, with Ingram more of a sleeper.

Here is an inside look at Ingram, Martin and Miller for 2013.

Ingram finally in good shape

Ingram has been considered a bust since the Saints drafted him in the first round in 2011. He's struggled with injuries, and his best season was last year when he had 156 carries for just 602 yards and five touchdowns and six catches for 29 yards.

For those of you scoring at home, that's 3.9 yards per carry and not much in terms of great Fantasy production when you're talking about a running back playing in an explosive offense like New Orleans. But we feel a big year is coming.

Ingram spent this offseason working with noted trainer Tony Villani in Delray Beach, Fla. Villani runs XPE Sports, which focuses on combine training, but he also works with current NFL players in the offseason. Some of his notable clients include Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin and Eric Berry.

Villani said Ingram is poised to have his best year, and he worked with Ingram on getting faster and building up his quickness. He compared Ingram to a "younger Jamal Lewis," and Ingram said this is the best he's ever felt coming into the season.

"I'm feeling good," Ingram said. "I'm feeling healthy and strong. Fast. Just more comfortable in the offense, more comfortable on the field. I'm feeling good. I'm excited for the regular season to start."

Ingram was drafted on average in Round 8 as the No. 36 running back, but we expect him to be better. I have him projected for 177 carries for 841 yards and eight touchdowns, and I think that's realistic. He had a strong preseason with 25 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and he looks ready to go.

Chris Ivory is gone, and Ingram should get the majority of work at the goal line with the chance for an increase in carries. He enters the season as a flex option with the potential to be better if he can stay healthy, and so far he's on his way heading into Week 1 against the Falcons.

Martin feeling good

I didn't get a chance to see Martin play against the Dolphins in the third preseason game because he had a head injury. But Martin said he's fine and would have played if it was a regular season game. He's ready to go for Week 1 at the Jets.

Martin, who was drafted on average at No. 2 overall, is hoping to improve on his rookie year in 2012. Martin was a star with 319 carries for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns and 49 catches for 472 yards and one score. He thinks he can get better in his sophomore campaign.

"I told myself I'd like to improve on my details and running routes and pass protection," Martin said. "My confidence has grown. I feel like I can go in and hit the ground running."

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano was impressed with Martin last season and expects him to improve this year. He wants to increase Martin's work on passing downs and continue to get him as many touches as possible.

"I thought Doug came into our organization with the right attitude and was really serious about what he was trying to accomplish," Schiano said in an interview with CBSSports.com this offseason. "With the exception of showing respect to the veterans, he did not act like a rookie. He practiced every day, trained, came in good shape and obviously had a great year.

"You like to maybe take a little load off him. But you like to get him more involved in some things that he does well. He wasn't in the game on third down. Maybe he gets some of those plays because he's such a good pass receiver and a good blocker. We have some thoughts on how to best utilize him. We just have to figure out how it fits with the rest of the team."

I have Martin projected for 305 carries for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns and 58 catches for 511 yards and one touchdown. He was No. 4 on my preseason rankings behind Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller and Jamaal Charles, but I have no problem considering him No. 2. He's in line for another standout season, and we're excited for him coming into the year, especially starting against the Jets.

Miller time for Dolphins

The Dolphins threw a wet blanket on Miller during the preseason with the talk of him splitting time with Daniel Thomas. They even indicated that might happen in Week 1 at Cleveland.

I'm not buying it, and neither should you. We've seen enough of Thomas for two seasons to realize he's not that good. This is a running back with five career touchdowns and has averaged 3.5 yards per carry.

Miller, on the other hand, is a difference maker. He has the chance to be a starting Fantasy running back in all leagues, and we hope you drafted him with confidence. His Average Draft Position was Round 4 as the No. 22 running back, and he could easily turn into a Top 15 running back this season. Just ask him.

"My dream season is 1,500 (rushing yards) and 15 touchdowns and to help this team win any way possible," Miller said. "That's the dream right now."

Miller said he expects to be the starter, and he isn't worried about Thomas getting some work. He knows he needs to improve, and he feels like he put in the work this offseason to have a breakout year.

"I was just trying to work on my overall game," he said. "Catch the ball, protect (quarterback Ryan) Tannehill and try to run the ball hard."

Miller spent time "every day" working on pass protection, which is one reason why the coaches like Thomas, but Miller's talent should keep him on the field in all aspects of the game sooner rather than later. I have him projected for 211 carries for 1,116 yards and six touchdowns and 35 catches for 311 yards and a touchdown.

He won't reach his "dream season" totals, but he should still be very good. And we like him to start off the year playing well against the Browns in Week 1.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
Texans WR Cecil Shorts excited about role in offense
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Wide receiver Cecil Shorts is looking forward to a new start with the Texans, reports the team's official website.

“I’m just excited to get there and try and catch a lot of balls and help this team win,” Shorts III said in an interview with Texans Radio on Tuesday. “To pair up with (WR) D-Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) who had a great season last year and some other guys that played well as well. I’m just happy to get there and get things going.” 

After spending his first four seasons with the Jaguars, Shorts is excited about the Texans' offense and the direction the team is headed in going into 2015.

“It feels good,” Shorts III said of joining the Texans. “This organization is definitely a franchise that’s very consistent with winning the last some-odd years. I think it was a great year last year being Bill O’Brien’s first year coming in going 9-7 and right in the playoff hunt and they’re just a franchise going in the right direction.”

The 27-year-old has racked up 176 receptions for 2,343 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.


Broncos WR Cody Latimer ready to step up in year two
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer is ready to take on a bigger role in year two with the team, reports the team's offical website.

"I feel like I’m ready, especially coming in a new offense, everybody gets a clean slate so we’re all starting from Day 1, and it’ll be exciting," he said. "I get to work with Peyton coming up soon, so he’ll be able to get me more into the offense and getting my learning curve, taking it to the next level."

Latimer is preparing to work with Peyton and Eli Manning at their yearly workout session next week.

"It’s my first time there, so it should be fun. I know we’re going to be working, studying, probably watching film and running routes," Latimer said. "It’s a good connection. It’s an early head start, in other words, to something that should be great. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, getting our timing connection and probably learning off of him and maybe learning something of the offense and things like that."

Latimer is cognizant of the fact that the team expects big things from him this upcoming season.

"I know it’s a big opportunity and I’ve got to make that leap for myself and our organization. They expect big things out of me; they drafted me in the second round, they expect me to produce so I feel like I’ve got to own up to that and make it happen.”


Cowboys LB coach: Sean Lee 'super excited' to play weakside LB
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) If the Cowboys bring back linebacker Rolando McClain, then it is assumed linebacker Sean Lee will be moved to the weakside, per The Dallas Morning News. Lee missed the 2014 season due to a torn ACL.

“If it says ‘linebacker’ behind the position, I think he’s going to be okay,” Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said of Lee. “I think that, like I said, we’ll tie all these guys together and see how they fit. And we’ll find the best position for them…. Sean’s uniqueness in his ability, like a few other guys that we’ve had, he’s able to play all positions. He can really play all positions. That’s what makes him a valuable asset to our defense. He will certainly be good once we get him there and get him going. He’s really super excited and so am I.”


Colts sign WR Vincent Brown
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:33 pm ET) The Colts have signed wide receiver Vincent Brown, the team announced Tuesday.

Brown appeared in seven games with the Raiders last season, catching 12 passes for 118 yards. His best season came in 2013, when he made 12 starts and played all 16 games with the Chargers and racked up 472 yards and one touchdown on 41 receptions.


Panthers sign LB Jason Trusnik to one-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:31 pm ET) The Panthers have signed linebacker Jason Trusnik to a one-year deal, the team announced.

"Jason is an experienced player who adds more competition to the linebacker position and has also been a special teams ace," coach Ron Rivera said. "I expect him to come in and be a leader. Even though he is new to us, he's got veteran savvy to him."

Trusnik made six starts while playing all 16 games with the Dolphins in 2014, racking up 48 tackles and intercepting one pass.

"First, I want to earn respect from my new teammates and coaches," Trusnik said. "It's a new team and I have to earn that. I want to continue to be the leader that I've been in the past and make plays, whether that be on special teams or on defense."


Cardinals sign QB Chandler Harnish to one-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:26 pm ET) The Cardinals have signed quarterback Chandler Harnish to a one-year deal, AZCardinals.com reports. He has yet to play in a game during his three-year career.

Report: Raiders release DL Antonio Smith
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:12 pm ET) The Raiders have released defensive lineman Antonio Smith, ESPN reports.

Smith started all 16 games for the Raiders in 2014 but recorded just 20 tackles and three sacks. He was slated to count $4 million against the cap, and the team will carry no dead cap space after terminating his contract.


Chiefs have no plans to cut ties with ILB Derrick Johnson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Chiefs have just $2.8 million of cap space with the NFL draft less than one month away, and while the team needs to find a way to make more room beneath the camp, the Chiefs will not part ways with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Kansas City Star reports.

"Derrick is obviously one of the greatest inside linebackers to ever play for the club and there are some pretty good ones, if you go back in time," team chairman Clark Hunt said. "In terms of the modern era of the Chiefs, it’s hard to think about the club without thinking about Derrick at inside linebacker. He’s a great leader, he’s a tremendous person, represents the club well on and off the field. We’re looking forward to having him back this year, hopefully good as new. You mentioned that his contract is up this year. There will be a point in time where we address that. But it just hasn’t been germane to this point."

Johnson missed last season due to a torn Achilles tendon and has a cap number of $5.2 million this season.


Report: 49ers to sign LB Desmond Bishop
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) The 49ers will sign inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Bishop joined the 49ers last December and recorded two tackles in two games. He emerged as a starter with the Packers in 2010 and racked up more than 100 tackles for two straight seasons before missing the 2012 season and becoming a free agent. He could win significant playing time in the 49ers' base set after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.


Eagles announce one-year deal with WR Miles Austin
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) The Eagles announced Tuesday that they have signed wide receiver Miles Austin to a one-year contract. The deal was reported Monday and became official Tuesday after Austin, who caught 47 passes for 568 yards with two touchdowns in 2014, passed his physical.

 
 
 
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