Dynasty Debate: Trent Richardson vs. Doug Martin


The owner of a high first round pick has an important decision to make. The player selected will be the cornerstone of their franchise, especially because nearly two dozen top players will be off the board by the time they draft again – this makes the right first round pick that much more critical. With the stakes high, Brian Bulmer and I present our arguments for two of the running backs you may be trying to decide between: Cleveland’s Trent Richardson and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin.  DLF’s May ADP shows mock drafters prefer Richardson slightly as the top dynasty running back over Martin, but it’s a tight race. Brian and I hope this article helps you decide one way or the other.

Brian’s argument for Trent Richardson

To argue Trent Richardson against Doug Martin is like arguing a hot blonde versus a hot brunette. Both of these players were great as rookies and will continue to produce throughout their careers. There is a divide in fantasy circles between these two. With both players considered as the top overall pick in a dynasty start up, is there a wrong answer here?

I always like to start with the bad news. The primary argument against Richardson at this point in his career is his injury history. He missed his rookie preseason when he had his knee scoped. He played with broken ribs from week six until week 16. He currently has a lower leg injury that will cause him to miss most of OTA’s. Will durability continue to be a concern for him?

I will add to another compelling argument against Richardson. He plays on a team with a questionable quarterback in a tough defensive division. Richardson gets to play Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and the Ravens twice a year – these are all tough matchups for a team that has questionable quarterback play.

Tying to the last argument is Richardson finishing with 3.6 yards per carry (YPC) last season. He had 267 rushing attempts (11th among all running backs). His 3.6 YPC is terribly low for a guy as talented as he is as well. This is a red flag to many dynasty owners as they try to decide why they would spend the top overall pick on him.

Age – The good news for Richardson is he will be turning 22 in July and Doug Martin turned 24 in January. Both are young, but in the NFL the proverbial “cliff” for running backs is 30. At this point, Richardson has a couple more years to produce in the NFL before reaching Martin’s age. A young running back is a commodity in dynasty leagues and Trent Richardson’s age is a slight premium.

Toughness – Trent Richardson did play banged up last season. He had his knee scoped and missed all or preseason. He had limited reps to prepare him for the year as well. Richardson is in a similar situation this year with a current lower leg injury  labeled as “not serious.” Richardson injured is ribs in a game on October 14th versus the Cincinnati Bengals. The report on ESPN said, “Richardson had to sleep propped up in a chair for four weeks following the injury.” He followed that injury up averaging 12.33 points in standard leagues and averaging 25 touches per game. In weeks 9,11, and 12, Richardson touched the ball 30+ times per game. If he can finish as the ninth running back in fantasy football with broken ribs and no preseason games, I will be interested to see what he could do in a season of full health.

Stats like LaDainian Tomlinson? – In Ladainian Tomlinson’s rookie season, he finished with 3.6 yards per carry. The starting quarterback for his team that season was Doug Flutie – talk about connections between two players. Poor quarterback play allowed teams to scheme for the rookie running backs. Tomlinson did outproduce Richardson in his rookie season, but the connections are hard to ignore. Tomlinson had 339 rushing attempts and caught 59 passes compared to Richardson’s 267 rushing attempts and 51 receptions. Richardson also played in one less game that season compared to Tomlinson.

The Norv Turner Effect – In 15 of Turner’s 21 seasons he has had a running back rush for over 1,000 yards. Names like Emmitt Smith, Terry Allen, Stephen Davis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams, LaMont Jordan, Frank Gore, and Ryan Mathews all were running backs with Norv calling the plays. He also loves to pass out of the backfield. Many running backs also caught a lot of passes with Turner calling plays. Emmitt Smith averaged 55 receptions per season. Terry Allen and Stephen Davis averaged over 31 receptions per season. Lamont Jordan had 70 receptions with Ricky Williams averaging 45 receptions. With Norv Turner in Cleveland, I look for him to utilize Trent Richardson in many ways. T-Rich could easily exceed 1,000 yards rushing and catch 50+ passes.

The talent of Richardson cannot be denied. He is playing in a tough division on a team with questionable quarterback play. The addition of Drew Brees in San Diego increased Ladainian Tomlinson’s stock significantly. If the Browns were to add a new quarterback next season, Richardson’s stock goes up. Considering he is already a top five dynasty pick, how much higher can he go?

Jaron’s argument for Doug Martin

As you can see here, Doug Martin is my top dynasty player overall. Trent Richardson is the third running back (after Martin and LeSean McCoy) and fifth overall, so it’s not like I don’t think highly of the Cleveland star.  Quite simply, Martin is the franchise cornerstone I’m targeting in dynasty startups. Though Brian makes a great argument for Richardson, give him the field and I’ll take the Muscle Hamster.

The major concern for Richardson has been a complete non-factor for Martin: injuries. In 2012, while Martin was never mentioned on an injury report, Richardson was listed 15 times with knee, chest, rib, and finger injuries, not to mention the ankle injury that kept him out week 17 and recent offseason shin injury. The mounting laundry list of ailments in his first NFL season only supplements the torn ankle ligaments and torn MCL that worried scouts heading into the 2012 draft.

An improved supporting cast will only help Martin and there is no question that offensive line play contributes to a running back’s performance. In 2012, Tampa Bay arguably lost their two best offensive lineman in Davin Joseph (knee) and Carl Nicks (toe), after which Martin still played at a high level. Vision, awareness, lateral quickness and quick acceleration led to Martin gaining more than 1,000 yards after contact. With the return of key linemen, particularly that of the elite run-blocker Nicks, Tampa Bay will be in an even better position to open up running lanes for Martin.

All other factors considered, the bottom line always will be how well the player performs on the field. In all formats in 2012, Martin far surpassed Richardson in fantasy scoring, finishing in the top five in rushing yards (1,454) and rushing touchdowns (11). In 12 of his 16 games, Martin totaled 100+ yards and/or a touchdown and caught four of every five passes sent his way. His 1,926 total yards from scrimmage for the 2012 season was third among all players (regardless of position), behind only Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.  All told, Martin averaged 16.4 PPR fantasy points per game, good for second among running backs behind Peterson, compared with Richardson’s 13.6 points per game and ninth place finish at the position. With averages of 4.6 rushing yards per carry and 9.6 yards per reception for Martin versus 3.6 rushing yards per carry and 7.2 yards per reception for Richardson, the Buccaneer simply outperformed his rookie counterpart.

Additionally, while both backs went through the rookie growing pains, Richardson disappeared too often. In addition to missing game 17 due to an ankle injury, he produced only six PPR fantasy points or fewer in four of 15 games. Martin, on the other hand, only had two of 16 games with similar poor production. For the knocks on how the Oakland game (251 yards and four touchdowns) skewed Martin’s statistics, he was the more consistent fantasy player throughout the season.

Looking ahead to 2013 specifically, Martin and the Buccaneers play half their games against defenses ranked in the bottom third against the run in 2012: New Orleans twice (#32), Buffalo (#31), Arizona (#28), New York Jets (#26), Philadelphia (#23), and Atlanta twice (#21). After shipping LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots, Martin has become the clear #1 running back in Tampa Bay, now with nobody around to really even attempt to take away goal line carries. A combination of Brian Leonard, Mike James and Michael Smith will battle for backup duties but are no threat to the three down back in Martin (an excellent receiver and effective blocker). Best among running backs with 300+ rushing attempts, Martin only fumbled once (to Richardson’s three in more limited action) giving more validity to the solid and reliable reputation for the Muscle Hamster.


In DLF June mock drafts, Richardson was selected ahead of Martin in all of the first four iterations. The spots flipped for the fifth and sixth mocks, so this is clearly a close call. Richardson is younger and has a new coach with a history of coaching top fantasy running backs, while Martin has durability and posted top-3 fantasy statistics as a rookie. Our goal here is to give you the facts and rationale behind our own preferences to help you to make the right choice for your own team.

So, who would you choose?

Jaron Foster

Jaron Foster

A data analyst by profession, Jaron has been writing for DLF since 2012. Native New Englanders, Jaron and his wife are introducing their son (2010) and daughter (2014) to the Patriots. You can regularly find him on Twitter (@jlfoster10) and in the DLF Forum at odd hours.
Jaron Foster

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  1. Kyle

    June 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Agree w/ Jaron here – Muscle Hamster, not close.

  2. boobam13

    June 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    nice article and good points on both sides…

    I own both so I am glad I don’t have to pick one over the other but if I had to keep one over the other I am keeping Martin. I think he has the health issue going for him, better talent around him and plays in a weaker defensive division. The other thing is Cleveland seems to keeps bringing in rbs were as Tampa shipped Blount and brought in only Mike James(who is solid and will be targeted in my rookie draft) so Martin is clearly the guy.

  3. Tom

    June 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I own them both! :)))))

  4. Chris R.

    June 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    “If he can finish as the ninth running back in fantasy football with broken ribs and no preseason games, I will be interested to see what he could do in a season of full health.”

    Favorite part of the article for me, which for some reason people understate. Not only was he a top 10 RB with broken ribs for more then half the season, he didn’t have a QB who had thrown for more then 30 TD’s before like Freeman or a legit pro bowl WR in Vincent Jackson to stretch the defense and add in Mike Williams you have a balance offense and teams have to respect both the run and the pass.

    What do you think defensive coordinators are saying when you play Cleveland with a rookie QB and raw, undeveloped WR’s and TE’s? Put 8 in the box, cheat up the 9th man, and play the run every play. Yet too many people seem to ignore that, and that he was playing with broken ribs, and compare him equally to Martin and the offense that he was in.

    Nothing taken away from Martin, what he did without both this guards was amazing, but I’m still taking Richardson because he’s the better talent and performed admirably with all things considered. I may have seen Martins ceiling, and Richardsons floor last year, that’s totally subjective but it’s not too crazy.

    If that’s Richardsons floor, at his age, with his talent, sign me up every day.

    • Draho

      June 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      This is for fantasy production, not the real life question of “who is a better player?” I think you are inadvertently making the point that Jaron is making. Neither situation is changing in the foreseeable future…Richardson will still be in an offense with no weapons around him & Martin will have Jackson/Williams/Freeman. My biggest concern as a Martin owner would be a Freeman regression resulting in a rookie QB behind center.

      • Preston

        June 26, 2013 at 5:36 am

        Not sure how neither situation is changing in the forseeable future as Cleveland is now running a new offense, with a new head coach, and a new offensive coordinator. Given the track record of the incoming guys, I think it more reasonable than not to expect TR to be used in a better way, and more in the passing game. Also an offense that attacks downfield should help with teams stacking the box. I’d also argue against the no weapons statement, but, I’ll have to just wait and see on that as they haven’t proven a lot.

        Also, it sure seems to me like TB isn’t exactly enamored with Freeman, and if he has a poor year, who knows where they go. So, I think there is likelihood that both situations have changed dramatically by as early as 2014. This is the NFL, things change rapidly.

    • SD Guy

      June 25, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      Don’t forget that Martin was giving up 35% carries to Blount and Richardson was getting 95% carries. Now that Blount is gone I would expect that Martin will get more carries and have an even greater year.

      • Preston

        June 26, 2013 at 5:30 am

        Not sure where you are getting that from, but it was nowhere near 35% carries to Blount. He had 41 carries, Martin 319, total of 360. 41/360= just over 11%. I agree that TR ceded less carries to others than Martin, but 35% is outlandish and nowhere near the actual figure. All that said, I actually think chances are he does not surpass his carry totals from last year….319 is a lot.

      • Brian Bulmer

        June 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        Looking at Snap percentages last season
        When healthy Doug Martin took 78% of the team snaps and Trent Richardson took 73% of the team snaps. These are snap percentage numbers taken from ProfootballFocus.

  5. Sean Curtis

    June 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Really, you can’t lose with either player. Both backs run with a combination of speed and power. However, Richardson’s running style makes him more vulnerable to injury. Martine is violent runner in his own right, but Richardson looks like he’s trying to hurt the would be tackler. I love both talents, but I’ll take the Muscle Hamster!

  6. ray

    June 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Pitt and Balt are not nearly as strong vs the run as they were in years past. Cincy does have a strong D IMO. This division defensively isn’t what it once was. Just my opinion but the NFC West is the toughest defensive division currently. That being said the Saints and Falcons are far from stout Ds IMO. Carolina on paper looks to be improved. For me it’s just the injury concerns for T. Rich vs Martin. When you factor in age it’s wash for me personally I would be happy with either …. but wanting both : )

    • Joe

      June 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Not going to debate the defensive toughness of the NFC west.
      But I think you are forgetting that Pittsburgh was 1st in total yards against, 1st in passing yards against and 2nd in rushing yards against last season, I don’t really see their D declining all that much. They may have lost James Harrison but they drafted his replacement in Jarvis Jones and have competition at OLB with Jason Worilds. And Warren Sapp’s annual tirade of “pittburgh D is old” is getting old.
      The Ravens D might have gotten better through the draft and free agency, and Cincy just might be a beast to be reckoned with.

      I am a Richardson owner but i would take Martin in a start up, simply because it looks like Richardson will have a hard time staying healthy enough to sustain a long productive career.

  7. doubledaggers

    June 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    What is the point in comparing two stud RB ? So WHAT!? They are both obviously high dynasty values to any team. what I was drawn to last year when I became a paying member was the insights to possible up and coming players,not players that have shown that they have obvious stud potential.And I was also “assured” DFL staff advice in the premium forums but found my questions mostly disregarded or forgotten. I am obviously unimpressed and disappointed in the premium membership and now also questioning the entire site.

    • JoeKool

      June 25, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Seriously? First off, this article is in the non-membership/free area, so your entire point is basically moot. Secondly, I think these guys not only bust their butts to provide articles nearly every single day of the week, but the bulk of them offer content that you just cannot find on any other site. Third..yeah..ok, most people would be happy to have either RB in this case, but the point is simply comparing the two youngest elite rbs…maybe it isnt their most insightful or gripping or helpful story, but it was an interesting read nonetheless and well, you try coming up with 300+ articles a year about football. I am sure are bound to be more helpful than others.
      Now I have no way of knowing about your questions being unanswered but I would like to think you either caught the guys at the wrong time or something similar because I have had a few questions/comments answered within 24 hours or so, and they have always been friendly and helpful to me and in most response I have seen on here, even when it could easily be responded to in a less than friendly manner. I’d like to believe you are in the minority in your beliefs. Perhaps I am wrong. But I check this site’s articles and the forum far too often actually and think its the best FF site out there, bar none.
      Keep up the good work DLF team!

    • Ken Moody

      June 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      DD, thank you for the feedback. We really do value hearing the opinions of our readers and we use that feedback to constantly improve. I’d like to respond to your points as briefly as possible, and maybe we can discuss further offline.

      What is the point of this article comparing these two top RB’s? It’s a way to offer our perspectives on these two top notch players, and to spark a discussion in our the dynasty community regarding their relative value. Based on the responses here and the poll, I’d say it’s not completely one-sided. Clearly you’d only be choosing one of these guys if you had a high pick in a start up draft. If you did have that high pick, such a critical selection probably warrants a little thought and discussion, so the premise of the article is not completely without value.

      While this article may not be your cup of tea, not every article will be. We try to produce articles which cover a wide variety of topics, and appeal to a diverse set of experience levels. Folks who are new to the dynasty format will probably appreciate different articles than those who’ve been playing dynasty for ten or more years. We’re working to provide something for everyone. This time of year can be particularly challenging as the NFL news slows down and not much is changing in the fantasy landscape.

      As for up and coming players, in just the last month alone I count at least five articles on the premium side which address players who are up and coming to varying degrees, including articles on guys like Jordan Reed, Kenny Still, Dennis Johnson and Rex Burkhead. Not to mention the many other players discussed in the various mock draft, stock market and spotlight articles. And we are just getting started. Our annual Summer Sleeper series of articles is ramping up where we will highlight one deep sleeper from every team. That’s coming soon, as well as other player specific analysis and dynasty debate articles, so hang in there. I hope those will meet that specific need you are looking for.

      As for your experience on the Premium Forums, I’m sorry to hear you were not getting the quantity of feedback you were hoping for. To be honest, we can probably do a little better there, and we’ll talk with the entire team about participating a little more in that area. But just a note, on general questions like “what do you think about my team” there is only so much feedback that can be given. It’s much easier to respond to more specific questions like “should I drop this guy to get that guy” or “What about this trade or that” or something like that. And there too, once an answer is given and if everyone else agrees with it, you may not get a lot of “I agree”, “same here” or “what he said” responses. But that said, your point is taken, and we’ll work on it.

      Honestly, the vast majority of the feedback we get is overwhelmingly positive, so your input is appreciated because it isn’t what we usually hear. We really do care very deeply amount the quality of our service that we provide, and we spend an enormous amount of time trying our best to continually improve and meet the needs of an ever expanding audience. I hope you stick around, and if you do have any further suggestions or would like to discuss this in greater detail, please do not hesitate to hit us up using the Contact Us form, and we will absolutely listen and discuss.

      Sorry for the not-so-brief response, and thanks again. KM

    • Brian Bulmer

      June 26, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      I would agree with Ken. We pride ourselves in interacting with our readers as much as possible. We try to respond to comments and continue to write quality content that sometimes we forget to read through the forums. I will personally try to do a much better job of this in the future.

      As a site we have a very diverse group of guys that like to focus on all parts of fantasy football. The diverse amount of content makes it great for all fantasy football types. We try to cater to all fantasy football players and certainly I hope you will find the content to be helpful to your fantasy football success.

  8. Ken Moody

    June 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I think it’s fair to say any of us would love to have one or both of these back on out team(s). They are both Excellent. But if I had to choose, (and I did) I’d go with TRich. I believe he will have a longer career, and a much higher ceiling.

    • Brian Bulmer

      June 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      I think so too Ken 😉

  9. Coach

    June 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    id still take Arian Foster over either of them…

    but if arian was gone and i was selecting between anyone else, id take doug martin. he’s my second running back behind foster.

    i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, i was unimpressed with richardson. i’ll let someone else take him.

  10. Kyle

    June 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I like both players and own Martin in a few leagues. In one league I have to choose between keeping Martin or Shady McCoy and Martin is my guy right now. I like his ability to explode for long TDs on the ground and through the air and think he will see even more of these breakaway jaunts in 2013. To me TRich doesn’t have as much of this flash ability and also has to contend with safeties cheating up constantly. So too me Arian is the hot blonde because you know she’s going to give you a good run every week, TRich is the hot brunette who will make the meal and then top it off with a hot dessert while Martin is the sexy redhead who is elusive but full of fire and brimstone.

    • BigD

      June 26, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      HUH? man i think you need a date or something? wtf

      • sixshooter

        July 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm


        • sixshooter

          July 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          Gotta go with TRich here…..although I like a hot meal with a cold dessert that involves ice cubes….LOL!

  11. BAMNation

    June 26, 2013 at 3:51 am

    I like both players as well, but give me the RB with the complete team – so therefore Martin

    T Rich may have Norv, but what else is really in place? defense is on the rise but offensively Gordon is the only guy worthy to take note for the offense and even he is not the best – yet.

    TRich has not played 100% and done well, but that does not mean he will be a beast if he continues to be injured.

    In Tampa they have decent coaches too, plus other offensive weapons to deploy, move the chains and save the wear-n-tear on Martin.

    In Dynasty I would look to see who can deliver in the next 1-3 years and Martin is set up to do so. even AP had Harvin…

    so my money would be on Martin and even if by the end of the 3rd year TRich is out preforming him, I would bet that Martin is the more consistent top 5 RB

  12. Willy J

    June 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I’m going TRich because of how effective he is near the goaline. Both are great, but I like the fact that if it the ball is inside the 5 yard line you KNOW who is getting he ball in Cleveland. Tampa has some big receivers who will take redzone looks from Martin.

  13. Al

    June 28, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I own Martin(5th pick in our rookie draft btw). Agree that both are elite but Martin is in the defence-less NFC south. T-Rich has the coach but schiano is no slouch either. He’s gonna turn TB into a really good team. I think Freeman is only gonna get better and now they have what looks like a defence and wrs to strech the field. Plus look at the guy.. He’s a freak. TRich is great but like mentioned above Pitt Cincy Ravens I’m not sure but what were his stats like vs those teams 6 games a year. If they are good then throw that argument out the window. Plus I feel Martin has the better oline. Can’t wait to see what Martin does this year. Both players are great to own, but I’ll take Martin vs NFC south all day long.

  14. J

    September 4, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Foster is done
    You are now about to witness the power of Trent Richardson

    • Doggie

      October 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      When might we expect this to happen?

  15. NO2 Maximus

    October 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can
    figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where
    to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

  16. Matt

    April 2, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Not sure if you guys get emails/notifications of new comments, but I ran across this article today while seeing what Doug Martin’s ADP peaked at, and man, what a difference two years makes, right? 🙂 Here’s hoping OBJ, Evans, and Jeremy Hill don’t burn anyone like this, but the parallels between Muscle Hamster 2013 and OBJ 2015 are kind of funny to me (as someone who doesn’t own OBJ anywhere!).

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