Blogs > N-H Fantasy Sports

News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fantasy focus: LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson

LaDainian Tomlinson turned 30 today.

In lieu of cards and cake, the Chargers running back and this decade's fantasy MVP (who needs a Super Bowl when you have that title?) asks that you select him in the first round of your fantasy draft in two months.

I laughed, too, until I researched fantasy football's top 12 for a column I wrote for the News-Herald's print and online editions.

Two players I wasn't expecting to crack the top 12 were Tomlinson and Rams running back Steven Jackson. In 2006, they were the best fantasy had to offer.

In 2008, one looked old and slow (Tomlinson, who has now reached the age at which most running backs' careers go the way of a "Sopranos" character), and the other played in only 12 games for the second straight season (Jackson).

Thus, they can't be first-round picks in 2009, right?

That's what I thought. But consider the following names: Drew Brees, Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook, Tom Brady, Brandon Jacobs, Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning.

In point-per-reception leagues, would you take any of those players over Tomlinson or Jackson? When you know even in bad seasons, the pair averaged 17.4 and 19.2 points per game, respectively? When you know you can always get an effective quarterback and wide receiver in Rounds 2 and 3?

Those are questions quite a few of us will be asking ourselves on draft day. Clearly, Brees is the safest pick of the aforementioned group. Clearly, Brady could score more points than anyone next season.

Still, I always defer to the running back.

In the case of Jackson, it's simple. If he's healthy -- which too often he wasn't in 2007 and '08 because of quadriceps, groin and back injuries -- he's a stud. In 2006, he rushed for 1,528 yards, caught 90 passes for 806 yards and scored 16 TDs. He closed last season by rushing 86 times for 360 yards and three scores in the last three weeks, a span that included 10 catches for 101 yards.

Because of the injury risk, I wouldn't select Jackson over the likes of Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Slaton, Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson and DeAngelo Williams. But if he's there at No. 10, I'd take the chance. And I wouldn't be surprised if he outscored Peterson this season.

Tomlinson is a more difficult call.

There's the milestone birthday. There's the fact he averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last season -- his worst norm since his rookie season of 2001. There's the presence of Darren Sproles, the electric back the Chargers value so highly they guaranteed him a $6.6 million salary in 2009.

At No. 11, however, everyone has flaws, aside from Brees, whom I am only downgrading because of his position. Manning doesn't have the weapons he used to, Brady is coming back from a very serious knee injury, Gore and Westbrook are injury prone, etc.

Tomlinson has never rushed for fewer than 1,110 yards in his eight-year career. He's never failed to reach double digits in touchdowns. He has never caught fewer than 51 passes.

In PPR leagues, even with Sproles as the third-down back, L.T. should score a dozen touchdowns and average 100 total yards per game.

That's a down year for the old L.T.

That's still enough for a late first-round pick.

But hold the cake. He's not 29 anymore.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home