NFL Fantasy Football 2010: LaDainian Tomlinson's True Fantasy Value

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 25: LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers carries for a gain during the first half against the Titans on December 25, 2009 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rex Brown/Getty Images)
Rex Brown/Getty Images

A couple of months ago, every warm body with a computer and a pen, was taking a hard nose stance that LT was done, and his career was basically over.

Well, boy howdy do things change quickly in the NFL.

As if Tomlinson’s career isn’t enough to talk about, his sudden rise in popularity has some people scratching their heads in curiosity, especially fantasy owners.

But to completely understand, one must first get caught up in all the doings that have transpired.

The LT Saga:

Our first stop is in Detroit, in late February, when coach Jim Schwartz wouldn’t rule out the possibility of pursuing LT’s services. But this showed itself to be another example of Jimmy "Tight Lips" Schwartz flexing muscles he didn’t have.

Then it was on to the Lone Star State where GM Rick Smith said that he and the team were evaluating LT and the chance of him joining the herd, only to have that notion quietly disappear like steaks on a BBQ.

In the midst of all this, two additional rumors floated around the wire that Sean Peyton of the Saints and the Washington Redskins were also interested.

But as it turned out, the Saints realized they have so many running backs they make them all wear name tags, while Washington curiously committed to Clinton Portis.

Oh yeah, there was also a rumor that Oakland was interested, but nobody cared.

Which brings us to our current chapter in the ongoing saga for the running back that was said to be finished; a notion in which his frequent flyer miles suggest otherwise.

The New York Jets and The Minnesota Vikings are currently trying to woo the eventual Hall of Famer with cozy low lit dinners, free NFL apparel, and heated extravagant contract talks that have surely acted as a small aphrodisiac to a guy who was down in the dumps about a month ago.

Here’s The Skinny:

Compiling all the reports into one grand act, The Minnesota Vikings have fed LT’s belly with the finest food Minnesota has to offer, and filled his head with soft verbal strokes on his ego that, as of recently, had LT telling reporters his last visit “wowed” him.

The Vikings would like to have LT over other candidates such as Brian Westbrook, and LT has been speculated to be leaning towards a team that can actually contend for a Super Bowl in 2010.

Sorry New York, Minnesota has you beat there.

But playing time could be an issue which could also be the reason why Tomlinson hasn’t yet committed; although he was seen leaving Vikings headquarters holding a Vikings Jersey…hmm.

But wait, there’s a guy by the name of Mike Tannenbaum who vehemently threw his hat into the mix, and this guy normally gets what he wants.

The Jets are willing to match a similar offer that Thomas Jones got in Kansas City worth—yes, Jones is in K.C. now—$5 million over two years.

But considering there are blood stains on the floor from the last ax they took to their previous running back, one has to wonder whether or not LT can consider the deal safe.

And of course, the Jets have about a year or two before they can be seriously considered a Super Bowl contender—a little too convenient of a  deal if you ask me.

So, with all of this sudden news, aren’t ya all hot and heavy? Well hunker down there kiddies because we still have to take a look at the Fantasy implications of all of this.

Is LT just a fantasy, fantasy option?

 The first two names that have to come to mind, when analyzing all of this, are Adrian Peterson and Shone Greene. Tomlinson’s role—no matter where he goes—will undoubtedly be limited, so there is the question of what team will do what with Tomlinson.

The Jets are an interesting bunch. They can show multiple looks, run with limited passing, and still win games. In addition to that, they can block with the best of them making any aging running back look like he’s fresh out of college (Thomas Jones anyone?).

But there isn’t a whole lot of room in the passing game which could hurt his value in PPR leagues. Still, having L.T. in the backfield will cause most defenses to pay extra attention to him possibly opening up more avenues for the Jets’ passing game.

Analysis:  Good for the Jets, not so good for your fantasy team. This is one of those situations that if he does wind up on the Jets, you’ll hear plenty of advice columns telling you to avoid the ground game situation in New York.


Or Can Tomlinson Return To Greatness Through Limitation?

Already equipped with Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, a dominating defense and Brad Childress’s penchant for growing facial hair, this looks like a solid fit even if Tomlinson’s role would be limited.

This is quickly becoming—if not already—a team that has too many offensive weapons to account for and adding LT to basically take over Chester Taylor’s role, and some extra change, would only go towards Tomlinson’s benefit.

LT would be utilized exclusively on third down, he could be a featured option in the passing game out of the backfield, and could make for a nice change of pace in goal line situations.

Analysis: Minnesota also features an offensive line that is now very secure on BOTH sides of the tackles and the team has already proven that a 1A running back can have some solid worth in both the NFL and fantasy.

If LT does decide on the Vikings, he could be a late round steal since he is still sure to drop no matter what.

he may even be able to help Brett choose a TV.

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