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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
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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