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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
Panthers claim OT Jonathan Martin off waivers
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4:27 pm ET) The Panthers announced Friday they have signed tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers, one day after the lineman was released by the 49ers. 

Martin played in 15 games with San Francisco last season, starting nine of them. Prior to that, he was a member Dolphins before being traded for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014. The 25-year-old has started 32 of the 38 games he's played in. 

"Jonathan brings quality experience to our offensive line, having started 32 games in his career at both tackle spots," Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said. 


Panthers sign WR Jarrett Boykin to one-year deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:22 pm ET) The Panthers signed free agent wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year deal Friday, per David Newton of ESPN.com. 

The 25-year-old receiver had a big campaign with the Packers in 2013, catching 49 passes for 681 yards, but fell out of favor last season, grabbing just three balls for 23 yards in 13 games. Boykin has 57 career receptions in three seasons, all with the Packers. 


Bears sign CB Alan Ball to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:44 pm ET) The Bears have signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website.

Ball, 29, spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars, but was limited to only seven games in 2014 due to a biceps injury. He racked up 59 total tackles, 17 passes deflected and three interceptions over that span. He has played eight NFL seasons with the Cowboys, Texans and Jags.


Titans sign CB Brandon Harris to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:09 pm ET) The Titans have signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website. Harris played 11 games in 2014, his first season with the Titans. He finished with 11 combined tackles and three pass deflections last season.

Redskins' Thompson, Redd to compete for third-down back role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:24 am ET) Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week at the NFL owners' meetings running back Chris Thompson will get the first chance to secure third-down responsibilities, according to The Washington Post. Silas Redd will also get consideration for the role of third-down back.

“Chris [Thompson] came in last year at the end and did some things, and we’re hoping that he can come back and stay healthy in the offseason and give us a little jolt back there,” Gruden said. “And Silas Redd will get every chance to do some things also.”

Although, the Redskins could look to bring in some competition before training camp begins.

“I also think that at the running back position in the draft, there’s a ton of them,” Gruden said. “It’s a very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we’re excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully. We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven’t been signed yet. But, giving Chris an opportunity, Silas, Alfred (Morris), that’s where it starts. And we’ll add some more later on for competition.”


Falcons could bring in Matt Schaub to vie for backup QB role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Falcons coach Dan Quinn is not ruling out bringing back former Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub to compete for the backup role behind starter Matt Ryan, per ESPN.

"Schaub is certainly somebody that we could [add]," Quinn said. "As we get through it, we'll let you know if we go down that road."

The 34-year-old Schaub was released by the Raiders in mid-March. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree are the other quarterbacks on the Falcons' roster.


Panthers' Rivera expecting Stephen Hill to contribute in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes wide receiver Stephen Hill is ready to make an impact in 2015 after spending the 2014 season on the practice squad, per ESPN.

“Very much so," Rivera said Wednesday during the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix. “He’s a guy we feel has an opportunity. We’re very excited about [seeing] Stephen during OTAs and minicamp.

“With his size (6-4, 215) and speed and his ability to get vertical, if he can assimilate to what we do -- and I think he will; he seems to be a very smart man -- he might be a guy that has an opportunity to contribute for us."

Rivera felt Hill's year on the practice squad was beneficial after the 2012 second-round pick failed to live up to expectations during his tenure with the Jets. 

“I thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and take a break," Rivera said. “The thing I liked about Stephen was how he contributed to our football team’s success. He came in. He had been a second-round pick. He had no assumptions, no entitlement.

“He ran all the scout teams for us. He ran them hard. Gave us great looks, which is what makes us excited 'cause you watch a guy perform who could very easily dog it, and he didn’t. And you saw him grow. You saw him make catches. You saw him get comfortable in his own skin again."


Terence Newman reunites with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) The Vikings announced Friday they signed cornerback Terence Newman, who played for coach Mike Zimmer in Dallas and Cincinnati.

“That’s the biggest thing. He can still play. He came in the league later. I think he was 25 when he came in,” Zimmer said, per the team's official website. “He struggled a little bit in Dallas and then played great in Cincinnati. Last year, he didn’t play quite as good, so seemingly with me, we get things fixed a little bit. I really respect him, and I think he really respects me.”

Although terms of the deal were not officially released, NFL.com reported earlier this week the veteran cornerback's deal is a one-year, $2.5 million contract.


Gruden: Redskins 'keeping a close eye' on Santana Moss
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) With wide receiver Santana Moss still looking to continue his NFL career, Washington coach Jay Gruden said there is a chance the Redskins might re-sign the veteran receiver, who had just 10 catches in 2014.

"We're keeping a close eye on Santana," Gruden said at the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix, per ESPN. "You know, that's something that we know where Santana is and he knows where we are, and something may work out down the road.

"I could always play with Santana. Santana's a great person. He's great in the locker room for us. He knows all the positions. I know he's going to be in great shape, and I would not hesitate one bit to call him."


Jaguars' Thomas won't try to measure up to Broncos' numbers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:11 am ET) New Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas told SI.com he has already begun working with quarterback Blake Bortles.

"It’s exciting, that first time you get to work out with your new quarterback," he said. "We’ve got a couple thousand more reps to go, but I’m really looking forward to that chemistry and growing with that entire offense."

The expectations will be elevated for Thomas, who is coming off two great seasons with the Broncos. However, Thomas isn't out to prove he can have the same production without Peyton Manning throwing him passes.

"I think I’ve got to be a little bit cautious on trying to prove so much," he said. "I think I’ve just got to go out there and work my hardest, and do everything I can to win every route, and see what happens. I don’t want to set a goal of 'I gotta have these numbers.' I’m just going to work my hardest every day, do everything I can to become a better player, and do everything I can to help out my team and this offense."

Thomas is also confident he will be able to coexist on offense with veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has been with the team since 2006.

"I don’t think we’ll have any problem playing together," he said. "I was actually talking to him this weekend. I ran into him; we both live in L.A. He’s a really good guy. I’ve met him a couple times before. We both have the same marketing company, so we know the same people, and people that I respect speak very highly of him. I think we complement each other very well. There are going to be things that he can teach me, and I can learn from him."


 
 
 
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