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After last season’s playoff success in which he piled up 263 yards and 2 TDs in wins over Cincinnati and San Diego, Shonn Greene began climbing up draft boards in the minds of fantasy owners. Then the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson rather than bringing Thomas Jones back. That only strengthened the case for fantasy owners. While LT may still have a little left in the tank, it seems like he’s closer to E than Jones is.

 

While I like the second-year back out of Iowa, I am not as high on Greene as most are. Mock Draft Central has an ADP of 14 for Greene, which seems a bit high. Personally I don’t even have him that high among RBs (click to see my RB rankings) let alone all players.

 

He is going ahead of guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Cedric Benson, and Ryan Grant. I can see passing on the QBs since there are plenty of good options later in the draft, but an unproven RB over Moss and Wayne, who you can basically pencil in for 1000+ yards and 10 TDs? I don’t see how you do that based on a handful of games. Even guys like Grant and Benson, that have proved they can contribute for a full season without getting hurt, seem like wiser decisions to me.

 

The Jets do have an excellent offensive line and play smash mouth football, but don’t expect them to be as run heavy this year. Mark Sanchez is older and wiser. Plus, the Jets brought in Santonio Holmes to help the Jets have a more balanced offensive attack.

 

Taking a guy 14th overall in a fantasy draft that has just two career TDs is risky, especially when he caught as many passes during the regular season as you did. It’s not like I would expect him to improve dramatically in the pass-receiving department. Even in his one breakout year of college he caught just eight passes.

 

LaDainian Tomlinson will catch the ball out of the backfield, and with 138 career rushing TDs look for LT to get the call at the stripe. So basically you’re looking at a yardage machine that won’t get many receiving yards and is unlikely to crack double-digit TDs. That doesn’t sound like a top 15 pick to me.

 

Prediction:  1280 total yards (1180 rushing), 6 TDs, 12 catches

 

What do you expect from Shonn Greene?

 

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The biggest concern the Chargers are facing is the possible holdouts of Vincent Jackson and Tackle Marcus McNeill and not LaDainian Tomlinson’s departure. It appears unlikely that they will have the services of these two key players any time soon.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Chargers should start the fantasy playoffs with a bang in a Week 14 match-up with Kansas City at home. Next they face the Niners at home before playing the Bengals in Cincinnati in the fantasy championship.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Philip Rivers – Losing Vincent Jackson would hurt, but Rivers would make do. He would still have Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee have potential. Plus, Darren Sproles is effective catching the ball out of the backfield.

 

Antonio Gates – Despite his decline, LT still scored12 TDs. It’s hard to imagine rookie Ryan Matthews will punch in that many. Gates should get plenty of looks in the red zone and a return to double-digit TDs is highly likely. If V-Jax does holdout, Gates will get more looks. He could easily be the top scoring TE in 2010.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Ryan Matthews – I know he’s only a rookie, but he is in a good situation. If McNeill does hold out, bump him down to a three star. Matthews should get plenty of carries between the 20s. He could yield some red zone carries to Darren Sproles because of Sproles’ versatility, but the one-yard plunges should belong to Matthews.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Darren Sproles – Sproles did not have the season many expected him to, but still finished with 840 total yards and 7 TDs. He should be able to at least match those numbers, and even top them if Matthews struggles to adjust to the speed of the NFL.

 

Vincent Jackson – If he doesn’t hold out, you can easily move him up to the five star level. He’s that talented. He’s big, he’s fast, and is a good bet for 1000+ yards and 10+ TD if, and it’s a big if, he can come to terms with the front office.

 

Malcom Floyd – If Jackson holds out, you can move Floyd up to at least a 3.5 star rating. He’s a big play threat averaging 17.2 yards per catch the past two seasons. He could produce a 1000 yards season if given enough looks.

 

Chargers Defense/Special Teams – They aren’t the force they once were, but the do play the Chiefs twice (Weeks 1, 14), Raiders twice (5, 13), Seahawks (3), and Rams (6).

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Legedu Naanee – Naanee could add a star if V-Jax sits out. He has good size (6’2″, 220), but has yet been given the opportunity to show what he can do. There is a bit of risk in drafting Naanee, but do remember who his QB is.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

The Jets front office is as bold as their brash coach (Rex Ryan). The passing game got a shot in the arm with the addition of Santonio Holmes. As long as they figure a way to make Darrelle Revis happy, they should be a force, both in fantasy and reality.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
Not exactly a walk in the park for the Jets. They face Miami at home in Week 14 followed by road games in Pittsburgh and Chicago. Weather could play a role in all three games.


Five Star Fantasy Options
None

Four Star Fantasy Options
Shonn Greene – Greene is probably more like a 3.5 star player given his limited track record (108 carries as a rookie), but I’ll bump him up to four given his upside and the Jets’ strong offensive line.

Jets Defense/Special Teams – Assuming Revis plays, this will be a tough unit once again. Rex Ryan has this unit playing with a swagger, and keeps you guessing. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson were brought in to make their secondary even tougher. They clearly are building a defense to keep up with the Colts, Patriots, Saints, and Vikings.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Mark Sanchez – Sanchez should not only improve in his second year, but he should get a little more freedom after proving his worth. With a trio of solid WRs in Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edward, and Jerricho Cotchery, along with TE Dustin Keller, Sanchez will have plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Santonio Holmes - He’ll miss the first four games because of a suspension, but is easily the Jets’ best WR. He could take a game or two to get up to speed, but Holmes should be strong for the stretch fun.

Dustin Keller - Keller and Sanchez really started to gel in the playoffs with Keller catching a TD in each game.  His numbers could slip when Holmes returns, so he could possibly be a guy you want to unload after the first four games if the price is right.

Two Star Fantasy Options
LaDainian Tomlinson – LT isn’t what he once was, but he did go to a team that is committed to the run. Plus, Greene hasn’t had the opportunity to show he can handle the full load until now. If he can’t (or gets hurt) LT’s value increases dramatically. He’s a good flex option as he’ll likely be the goal line back.

Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery - Edwards and Cotchery will get a month to work with Holmes in the penalty box. When he returns Cotchery will likely handle slot duties. Edward is the best threat to lead the team in TDs. Cotchery, with the four game head start on Edwards, could lead the Jets in receptions for the fourth straight year.

One Star Fantasy Options
Joe McKnight - McKnight will handle third down duties for the Jets. He is extremely quick and has great hands out of the backfield. He’ll likely break a few explosive plays during the course of the year, but as long as he’s the third-stringer, he’s not a good fantasy option.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

A couple of big name NFL players have new homes. LaDainian Tomlinson left sunny San Diego for the Big Apple as he signed on to backup Shonn Greene of the New York Jets. I thought he would be a good fit with the Vikings, where he could justify to himself that he’s backing up an elite running back. Clearly LT knows where he’s at in his career. Otherwise he could not have accepted being second fiddle to a back with Greene’s credentials. 

Personally I think he misjudged the ability of the Jets. They made a great run last year, but I think will be hard-pressed to return to the playoffs in 2010. You can basically pencil in New England, Indianapolis, and San Diego. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (depending on Big Ben’s availability), Cincinnati, Houston, and Tennessee will be challenging the Jets for the remaining playoff spots. Assuming Brett Favre returns, I think the Vikings are in a better position to win it all. LT will likely have a bigger role with the Jets. Perhaps that swayed his decision.  

LT’s fantasy value clearly takes a hit. Barring injury, he won’t get as many touches in New York. Shonn Greene’s value shouldn’t change. He was getting the touches down the stretch when Thomas Jones was still with the team. Personally, I think Jones is better than LT at this stage of their careers.

In other news, the Broncos acquired Brady Quinn from the Browns for Peyton Hillis and some draft picks. Hillis is not a fantasy option in Cleveland. It appears his brief run two years ago will just be a blip on his fantasy radar. The real piece in this deal is Quinn. I’m not sure he could have found a better home. While Jay Cutler had to deal with John Elway comparisons, Quinn doesn’t come with the same expectations. The bar is set much lower. Besides, he’ll be happy to escape Cleveland where he was looked at as a hometown hero prior to his stint with the Browns.

It’s hard to say if you can count on Quinn this year. He’ll at least have the opportunity to beat out Kyle Orton. If he wins the starting gig, his value will be tied to the whereabouts of Brandon Marshall. If Marshall is dealt, his options could be limited. Thankfully you don’t have to make any decision on Quinn right now.

Big names have new homes, but nothing for fantasy players to get excited about.

The Chargers wrapped up the #2 seed in the AFC by taking it to the Tennessee Titans 42-17. They don’t have anything to play for next week against Washington so their starters’ availability comes into question.

Since they will have a first-round bye, I would expect the starters to take part in the bulk of the practices this week. They get a couple of extra days off thanks to playing on Christmas Day.

When the game rolls around, I have a hard time believing they will play their starters the whole game. Why risk an injury in a meaningless game. If you’re in a league where Week 17 determines your league champion, I would be hesitant to use a Charger next week. I would especially avoid using LaDainian Tomlinson, who is most likely to be rested up for the playoff fun. Once you have your lineup figure out, you should then lobby for a Week 16 championship or find a new league.

As the 2000s come to a close let’s look back at the fantasy players who made the biggest impact in their respective sports.

LT
I lead off with the fantasy football player of the decade since it is the most popular fantasy sport. I had a tough time deciding between Peyton Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson. They both were so dominant for such a long time.

Peyton is on pace for his ninth 4,000+ passing season. Should he throw two more TDs this season, which is all but a given, his low water mark for passing TDs in a year will be 26. He has also never missed a game.

Meanwhile LT is approaching his ninth consecutive double-digit TD season. Prior to this year he had at least 1500 total yards in every year. He had six years with 1700+ total yards, three with 2100+. He had six straight years with 15+ combined TDs. He set the NFL record with 31 combined TDs in 2006. He had 50+ receptions from 2001-2008. The accolades can go on and on.

It truly could go either way, but considering the run of greatness LT had in a position that has a much shorter shelf life than Manning’s, I had to take LaDainian Tomlinson as the fantasy football player of the decade.

Albert Pujols
If you thought switching over to baseball would make it easier, you’d be mistaken. Here the choice is between Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. A-Rod had 1190 Runs, 433 HRs, 1243 RBIs, and 179 SBs. That’s an incredible 119 Runs, 43.3 HRs, 124.3 RBIs, and 17.9 SBs for a decade. His OPS was .914 or better for nine of the ten years. He had five seasons with an OPS greater than 1.000. He hit .304 for the decade. A-Rod won three MVPs, two Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and was named to nine All-Star teams.

As good as A-Rod was, Pujols was even better. Like LT, Pujols started in 2001 with a bang. In nine years he had 1071 Runs, 366 HRS, 1112 RBIs, and 61 SBs. That’s good for averages of 119 Run, 40.7 HRs, 123.6 RBIs, and 6.8 SBs. I know those numbers are a shade below A-Rod, especially the SBs, but here’s where Pujols more than made up the ground. His batting average for the decade was .334. It never dipped below .314. A-Rod’s best BA of the 2000s was .321. Aside from his low water mark, all of Pujols’ BAs topped that. Albert’s OPS for the decade was 1.055. His lowest OPS was .955. Seven times he was 1.000 or better. Four times he was 1.100 or better. Pujols also won 3 MVPs to go with eight All-Star game appearances, a Gold Glove, and five Silver Sluggers.

The decision wasn’t easy by any means, but in the end Albert Pujols edged A-Rod out.

Kobe Bryant
The fantasy basketball player of the decade also came down to a choice between two amazing players. LeBron didn’t play long enough and Shaq lost his steam so it came down to Tim Duncan vs. Kobe Bryant.

Duncan was such a quiet force, but year in and year out he put up incredible numbers. He has always been a solid scorer, never dipping below 18.5 ppg. He averaged a career best of 25.5 in 01-02. He was one of the leagues best rebounders for a decade, never grabbing less than 10.6 rpg. Not much is said about his passing, but he always had at least 2.7 apg. Last year was the only one in which he failed to reach 2.0 blocks per game. He almost always hit 50 percent of his shots or better. His one downfall has been his free throw shooting.

Kobe has been one of the best offensive players the game has ever seen. He averaged 27 or more ppg six times before this year. He wasn’t just a scorer though as he averaged 5.2+ rpg and 4.5+ apg every year. He was a force on the defensive end as well, with as least 1.3 spg. His field goal percentage was good, not great. It never dipped below .433, but he never had a .500 season either. He made with excellent free throw shooting. He even improved his three-point shooting over the course of the decade.

As much as I prefer Duncan’s personality, I have to choose Kobe Bryant in this debate.

Martin Brodeur
Fantasy hockey was a little more difficult. Jaromir Jagr dominated the early part of the decade. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have dominated the latter part of the decade. Joe Thornton was pretty solid throughout, but does he really have the star power to nail down this award?

In the end I decided to go with Martin Brodeur. He entered the decade as the game’s best goalie, and he has pretty much maintained that status. He led the league in Wins five or six times (depending on whether you count 99-00 or 09-10 as part of this decade). His Goals Against Average never was above 2.57. In fact, only three times was it above 2.30, including last year in which he was limited to 31 games.He had at least nine shutouts four times. Brodeur won four Vezina Trophies. From 1997-98 through 200708 he was either first or second in Wins. Simply put, Brodeur was the best Goalie in the game and the most dominating hockey player of the decade.

Agree with my choices? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts and state your case.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI.

Ladainian Tomlinson cutting
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LT did not live up to his top two (along with AP) draft status last year.  He “only” had 1110 rushing yards and 11 TDs.  He did add 426 yards receiving and a TD to give him 1536 total yards and 12 TDs.  Though it’s not what fantasy owners came to expect of LT, it is still very good fantasy production, especially considering he was hobbled by injury last year.  Tomlinson recently turned 30, coupled with Darren Sproles playoff
run, have caused many to question LT’s fantasy value.  While he will likely never return to his 2002-2007 level, there is no reason to think he can’t match or exceed last year’s production.  Since he is being taken in the mid-to-late first round in fantasy drafts, he should be an excellent value in 2009.

LT has some great matchups this year.  He faces Oakland in Weeks 1 & 9, Kansas City in Weeks 7 & 12, Denver in Weeks 6 & 11, Cleveland in Week 13, and Cincinnati in Week 15.  He does have some tough games on his schedule (Baltimore in Week 2, Pittsburgh in Week 4, NYG in Week 9, and Philly in Week 10), but they do not fall in his fantasy playoff schedule.  He faces Dallas, Cincinnati, and Tennessee in Week 14-16.  Tennessee could be a tough matchup in the fantasy football championship, but they won’t be the same without Albert Haynesworth.

I can see LT going somewhere between the 4th and 10th pick. Personally I would take him with the 5th pick.  I expect him to put up 1700 total yards and 10+ TDs next year.

Chargers Colts
Don’t count LT out just yet
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One of the biggest question marks, as fantasy football players begin their rankings, is the health of LaDainian Tomlinson.  He is no longer considered the top pick, but he is still a first round pick.  I had the opportunity to take him in a mock draft with the fifth pick, but opted to take Larry Fitzgerald instead.  If the same scenario was presented to me today, I may have to reverse my thinking and take LT.  It’s close.

Some think I’m nuts for taking a WR with the fifth pick, but Chris Johnson is in a shared backfield with LenDale White, LT & S-Jax are coming off injuries, and there isn’t a proven track record for DeAngelo Williams and Steve Slaton.  Fitz has 1400 yards and 10 TDs in three of his past four years.  With roughly half of first round RBs typically falling short of expectations, Fitz just seems a safer play for a top pick.  This article isn’t about Fitz though, so let me get back to the matter at hand.

LT, by all accounts, had a down year in 2008.  The man had 1536 total yards (1110 rushing, 426 receiving) and 12 TDs (11 rushing, 1 receiving).  His ypc wasn’t great at 3.8, but he was dealing with a toe injury.  That injury has healed though, and according to an AP report he is  “kind of making sure my body’s in great shape, and making sure I’m as strong as possible.  I haven’t missed any time, worked out every single day. … I haven’t had a setback at all.”  Encouraging words for those who own LT in keeper leagues.

Another factor is the return of Shawne Merriman.  He will single-handedly make the Defense better.  Instead of Rivers airing it out, the Chargers will likely be able to have a more balanced attack.  Sproles will have a larger role next year, but that should only serve LT better by keeping him fresh.

Obviously a setback can occur along the way, but the future Hall of Famer is rising on my board. 

How about you?  With what pick would you take LT?

This is my preseason top ten.

Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

adrian-peterson
1.  Adrian Peterson – All Day led the league in rushing and scored double-digit TDs again.  Sure, the loss of Matt Birk will hurt, but Peterson shouldn’t miss a beat.  He’s looking to add some muscle mass this offseason without losing any speed.  A bigger AP with the same speed and quickness.  Scary.

2.  Michael Turner – Burner Turner did not disappoint in his first shot as the feature back.  He struggled early against good defenses, but scored in seven of his last eight games.  As Matt Ryan progresses at QB, it will become more difficult to key in on Turner.

3.  Matt Forte - I love Forte’s versatility.  As a rookie he had the third most receiving yards for a Running Back.  Second if you discount Kevin Faulk, who isn’t a feature back.  He had 1715 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Even if he has a 10% Sophomore slump dip in production, he’d still be good for over 1500 total yards and 10-11 TDs.

4.  Maurice Jones-Drew – With Fred Taylor heading to New England, MJD should be huge in 2009.  He’s always good for 400+ receiving yards and double-digit TDs.  Give him 300-320 carries and you could be looking at nearly 2000 total yards and 15+ TDs.

5.  Ronnie Brown - Last year Ronnie had 214 carries to Ricky Williams’ 160.  I think the split will be even more in Ronnie’s favor next year.  With Ronnie another year removed from his knee injury, he should be closer to the 2007 back that had 991 total yards and five combined TDs in seven games.

lt
6.  LaDainian Tomlinson - LT battled through a variety of ailments last year and still managed to produce 1536 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Not only do I think he’ll be healthy in ’09, I think he will be motivated.  I don’t see pre-2008 LT, but a better version that last year’s model.

7.  Clinton Portis – CP was severely overworked last year, but he still remains on the right side of 30. I see him producing similar numbers next year, only spaced out a whole lot better.  Jim Zorn will do a better job managing Portis’ carries so he doesn’t wear down at the end of the year.

8.  Brandon Jacobs - You would think Derrick Ward’s departure to Tampa Bay would have a significant impact on Jacobs’ value.  I don’t think so.  Ahmad Bradshaw will likely pick up most of the slack. As long as Jacobs can stay healthy, there isn’t any reason he couldn’t run for 1200+ yards and scored 18+ TDs.

9.  DeAngelo Williams – You must think I’m crazy putting D-Will this low after leading all RBs in scoring last year.  I’m sorry, but I don’t see another 1700 total yards from him.  Furthermore, there is little to no chance he approaches 20 TDs again.  Jonathan Stewart played a major role last year, and I think the split will be a little closer to 50/50 this year.

10.  Steven Jackson - Steven Jackson’s strong finish (637 total yards and 4 combined TDs in his last five games) is sticking in my mind more than the most forgettable 19 games he had in 2007 and the first part of 2008.  If he can stay healthy he has a chance to leapfrog several of the guys above him.  I haven’t completely forgotten though, which is why he’s in the ten spot.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI


The Chargers’ Offseason has already been sullied by the A.J. Smith-LaDainian Tomlinson feud.  Shawne Merriman played the voice of reason and told them to keep that garbage out of the papers.  LT’s situation is not resolved as is the biggest quesion facing the Chargers this offseason.  At least they figured out what to do with Darren Sproles.  They have to be regretting the decision to let Michael Turner walk.  The slapped the franhise tag on Sproles?  One area that isn’t a question mark is their Quarterback play.  The Chargers could work on locking up Philip Rivers long term, but he’s signed through next year.  Vincent Jackson is also signed through next year, but his recent DUI could deter him from getting an extension this summer.  The same goes for Chris Chambers, minus the DUI.  Malcom Floyd is a free agent that will likely be back.  Antonio Gates dealt with nagging injuries, but still was a top end Tight End.  Starting Guard Mike Goff is a Free Agent, but his return isn’t likely.

On Defense the Chargers will welcome the return of Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman.  They don’t have any major Free Agents to deal with on this side of the ball.  They do need to get better stopping the pass as they ranked 31st in that category.


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