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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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“Yes, I have the ability to run the whole [route] tree,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’ve been working on this offseason. I’m running all those routes in the sand [during beach workouts]. And once the time comes to come on the grass, I feel like it’s going to be a lot easier because I’ve prepared myself.”

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“I’m very impressed with Antonio Brown,” Thomas said. “He’s a great player, and I feel like I have the same ability to make the same plays like him and help the team and be that [kind of impact] player.”



 


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