Saturday, July 18, 2009

2009 FANTASY FOOTBALL: DRAFT TOMLINSON


One of the biggest questions heading into fantasy football drafts for the upcoming season is where does San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson fit in?

I'm usually pretty good with at least one or two preseason NFL predictions, like last season when I predicted Tom Brady would get hurt and not finish the season. I know, I know, you've probably heard me pat myself on the back for that prediction many times but what the heck, I might as well beat that into the ground as long as I can.

Last season, Tomlinson had a toe injury most of the regular season then had a torn groin muscle in the playoffs. He posted unTomlinson-like numbers with 292 carries, 1,110 rushing yards, 426 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. One encouraging item is he wanted to stay in San Diego so bad that he restructured his contract in the offseason.

Bottom line: Do not underestimate the value of Tomlinson this season. Prior to last season he was a fantasy football running back stud and I see him returning form - or better - this season.

This scenario reminds me of last season's scenario involving back Michael Turner who signed with Atlanta. Turner was a longtime backup to Tomlinson and for the first time he was out of Tomlinson's shadow. I predicted a huge year for Turner and I drafted him in trhe second or third round in several leagues last season. Turner did not disappoint.

Tomlinson wants to prove last season was an aberration and that even at age 30 he is still an elite back. Sure, Darren Sproles lurks close by as his backup and will take some carries away. But Tomlinson's motivation to succeed will produce huge fantasy numbers.

I see around 1,500 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and at least 16-18 touchdowns (rushing and receiving combined). Of course, you have to hope he stays healthy and I think he will....

Still, as you would with any elite back, you should certainly get Sproles as a backup in your draft just to be safe if you draft Tomlinson.

On www.mockdraftcentral.com, in the thousands of mock drafts conducted on the site, Tomlinson has been drafted anywhere from No. 3 to No. 12. In my opinion, Tomlinson should be draft among the top 5 spots and I would certainly consider drafting him at No. 2 overall. If you're not picking at No. 1 and Tomlinson is available for your first pick, grab him.....

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