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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
Patriots fairly healthy heading into Super Bowl Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:10 pm ET) The Patriots will be at nearly full strength for Sunday’s Super Bowl as the following players have been listed as probable: Tom Brady (ankle), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), Chris Jones (elbow), Akeem Ayers (knee), Darrelle Revis (non-injury-related) and Sealver Siliga (foot).

All except Brady were limited participants in practice Friday. The only question mark is center Bryan Stork, who is questionable with a knee injury and was limited in practice Friday.

The Patriots are currently 1-point favorites against Seattle.


Seahawks unveil final injury report in preparation for Super Bowl
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:09 pm ET) The Seahawks have listed the following players as probable for the Super Bowl on Sunday: J.R. Sweezy (ankle), Justin Britt (knee), Marshawn Lynch (back), Earl Thomas (shoulder), Richard Sherman (elbow) and Kam Chancellor (knee).

Chancellor was a late addition to the injury report, when he fell on the next-to-last play of practice and missed the last play. He was not limping on his way off. All other players were full participants in practice Friday.

The Seahawks are currently 1-point underdogs against New England.


Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to avoid surgery on shoulder
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he will avoid surgery on his shoulder after testing it at the Pro Bowl. 

"I’ve been doing rehab and I’m going to start back on my rehab Monday and really there’s going to be no surgery," Graham told SiriusXM radio. "I’m just going to do rehab, strengthen the area. That’s what’s best — not having to take six months off and try to heal up with a surgery, but now have those six months to work on all things I need to to try and hopefully get to a place like (the Super Bowl) next year."

Graham, who had 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, fought off the injury for most of the season. He was still unsure about having surgery before the Pro Bowl last week.

"It was something that really needed some rest and unfortunately it wasn’t able to get that during the season," he said. "It happened early and then you have about 10 straight weeks of trying to make it to the game. Now after having about three or four weeks and last week kind of testing it at the Pro Bowl, it feels great."


Vikings' Greg Jennings: We all want Adrian Peterson back
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:26 pm ET) Vikings veteran wideout Greg Jennings said during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview on Friday that embattled running back Adrian Peterson is wanted back by everyone in the organization, per ESPN.

"I don't know if he'll be back. I can't answer that question," Jennings said. "But what I do know is that if he does come back, he'd be accepted with open arms. As an organization from the Wilfs on down, we all want him back. So, I mean, it's a touchy subject and he's been the franchise player -- face of that team -- for eight years. So it will be a loss, a huge loss, if we can't get him back, and that's the nature of this business."

In November, Peterson was suspended by the league without pay for the rest of the season, making him ineligible for reinstatement until at least April 15. The move came after Peterson pleaded no contest to recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son last May. He is under contract with the Vikings for next season, and is set to earn $12.75 million.

It's unclear at this point if Jennings has talked to Zygi and Mark Wilf about the Peterson situation. What is clear is that the team is not allowed to communicate with Peterson during his suspension.


Eagles' Maclin believes contract will take care of itself
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:08 pm ET) Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin believes he will be back in Philadelphia in next season. His representatives and the Eagles are in the process of negotiating a new contract for the 27-year-old, who will become a free agent in March unless he is re-signed.

"I'm excited about what the future holds," Maclin said on Friday. "Once again, both sides have made it known what we want to do. I think it will take care of itself."

He could be franchise tagged if a deal is not signed. The tag number for wide receivers is yet to be determined.

Maclin had 85 catches in 2014 for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in Philadelphia.


Bears sign LB DeDe Lattimore to two-year contract extension
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:03 pm ET) The Bears have signed linebacker DeDe Lattimore to a two-year contract extension. He appeared in 10 games as a rookie in 2014, recording five special teams tackles.

Jaguars' Khan 'very optimistic' about WR Blackmon being reinstated
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:46 pm ET) Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said Friday he is "very optimistic" about wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who missed the 2014 season after being suspended indefinitely for a third violation of the league's substance abuse policy, being reinstated to the NFL.

"I think he's paid his dues and I think he's got his life together," Khan said, per The Florida Times-Union.


NFLPA president Eric Winston: New conduct policy 'violates CBA'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:43 pm ET) After the union field a grievance last week against the NFL over changes to the NFL personal conduct policy, Players Association president Eric Winston said Thursday the new policy "violates the CBA in several ways and we're going to be grieving this as far as we can."

NFL owners unanimously approved the changes in December.

"We have an agreement with the league and they have an agreement with us," Winston said, per the Associated Press. "We're going to hold them to that agreement. Many aspects of this policy fall outside of the CBA and we're going to continue fighting it going forward."

Following former Ravens running back Ray Rice's domestic violence case and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's child abuse case, a more extensive list of prohibited conduct was included in the policy, as well as criteria for paid leave for anyone charged with a violent crime. A suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, sexual assault, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence will be in effect.

"The league's revised conduct policy was the product of a tremendous amount of analysis and work and is based on input from a broad and diverse group of experts within and outside of football, including current players, former players, and the NFL Players Association," the league said in a statement last week.

"We and the public firmly believe that all NFL personnel should be held accountable to a stronger, more effective conduct policy. Clearly, the union does not share that belief."


Eric Decker 'pushing' for Demaryius Thomas to sign with Jets
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:38 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is set to become a free agent in March, unless he agrees to a contract extension or Denver uses the franchise tag on him. If he does become a free agent, former teammate Eric Decker hopes Thomas would consider joining him on the Jets roster.

Decker spent a few days in Arizona this week with Thomas filming a commercial.

“I’ve been pushing for the entire year now,” Decker said in a telephone interview with The New York Post. “It was just another opportunity to talk to him about it. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I think it would be tough for Denver to let him go. So whether they franchise-tag him here in the next month or give him a long-term deal, he’s just one of those premier players in this league.

"If he happens to make it to free agency, I would love to sign him because playing alongside him for four years and especially the last two years made it a lot of fun and made it a lot easier. He’s just one of the great players in this league.”

Thomas recorded a career-best 1,619 receiving yards in 2014. It was his third straight season of 1,000-plus receiving yards. He also had at least 10 touchdowns for a third straight season.


49ers CEO York: 'Defenses are not going to want to play against us'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:32 pm ET) 49ers CEO Jed York confirmed the promotion of quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst to offensive coordinator during an interview with NFL Network on Friday. York is particularly excited about Chryst, who has been the quarterbacks coach since 2011, continuing to work with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“With Kap, you got a guy in Geep Chryst who knows him better than anybody else,” York said, per CSNBayArea.com. “You have a great guy in (quarterbacks coach) Steve Logan who is coming to come in to work with him on fundamentals and allow us to put together a system that’s going to put Kap in the best position to make plays.

“How many quarterbacks in this league can run 90 yards for a touchdown? I can’t think of many. But you have to put Kap in a position where he can make those plays. And put Kap in a position where we can run the ball (and) we can throw the ball in ways that allow him to be successful and let him be the absolute stud that he can be on the field. And I think that’s what you’re going to see from us next year. Defenses are not going to want to play against us because you’re not going to know where we’re going to hit you.”


 
 
 
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