Originally written November 16, 2012 on RotoAsk:
  Move over SuperCam, there’s a new fantasy freak show coming to town! Doug Martin looks to continue his ground game dominance, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4) take on the Carolina Panthers (2-7) for a Week 11 NFC South matchup. Doug “The Fantasy Freak Show” Martin   Martin, who has rushed for 454 yards and 5 TD’s in the past three games, is one of the hottest backs in football, and Tampa Bay should have no plan to dial back his touches. Couple that with an additional 151 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown, Martin is the front running for Top Rookie, this year. The threat of Martin in the back field has given Josh Freeman the freedom to air the ball out to his talented receivers, Jackson and Williams, making this offence a fantasy juggernaut in recent weeks. For the home side, Coach Rivera’s game plan for Carolina is simple; throw the ball until Newton’s arm falls off, and then throw it some more, left handed if needed. The run game won’t help them on Sunday as the Bucs are 1st in the league against the run, allowing only 80 YPG , but rank 32nd against the pass allowing a monstrous 321 YPG. Expect Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell to have above average games. Chalk up a Red Zone TD for Olsen too. The big story for Carolina’s season has been the disappearance of the ground attack. The three headed monster of Deangelo Williams, Jonathon Stewart and Cam Newton were projected to be tops in the league during the preseason, however, they have been anything but dominant. While Carolina is 15th in the league with 109 YPG, it’s Newton that leads the team in rushing yards, YPC and TD’s. It’s not what you expect from a couple 1st round picks in Williams and Stewart. It won’t be all fun and games for Carolina’s pass attack though. Tampa’s awful coverage in the secondary gives them ample opportunity to create turnovers, and they have done just that, hawking 15 INT’s in 9 games. Their INT / Pass Attempt percentage is low, but it only takes one to change a game. Newton isn’t exactly surgical with his passes either. With a Tampa win, they’ll maintain at least a 1 game advantage over the resurgent Saints, who are in Oakland this week, and should walk away with an easy win. And, while catching Atlanta for the division lead is a dream, they should be solid contenders for a Wild Card berth.   The QB Breakdown Finally, fantasy owners who invested in Josh Freeman, are reaping the benefits of the talented young QB. Freeman started slow in the first 4 games,collecting  only 790 yards (197 / game), 5 TD’s and 4 INT’s. But after their Week 5 Bye, Freeman has thrown for an impressive 1467 yard (293 / game), 13 TD’s and only 1 INT. He hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 6. Freeman is also known for using his legs to pick up yards, but with the emergence of Martin, and two receivers who are continuously getting open, there has been no need to display that talent.  Newton owners, especially those who drafted him in the 1st round, can’t feel they are getting full value out of the sophomore QB. Although his overall numbers are still pretty good, 2100 passing, 354 rushing yards, with 8 TD’s (4 more rushing), the interceptions have been plaguing him a bit. Newton has 4 games with multiple picks, giving the ball away 10 times in total. Hitting paydirt with his legs has been an issue this year as well, but can you really expect a QB to rush for 14 TD’s every year? Maybe we are being over critical, but the boy has the talent, now he just needs the heart.   Keys to the game The key to the game for both teams will be 3rd down conversions. Both Tampa and Carolina are hovering around the 33% conversion rate, which is not nearly good enough to be a successful team in the NFL. Carolina could steal a win here if they conquer their 3rd down woes, and force TB into some 3rd and longs.   This football season has been as tough as any to predict, that I can remember in recent history, so choosing Carolina to win at home isn’t a horrible choice. I anticipate this being a relatively high scoring game, but in Tampa’s favor. Tampa 36          Carolina 28   Disagree? Post your comments below.
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