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.

Chargers Colts
Don’t count LT out just yet
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

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?

When you selected LT with the #1 pick in your fantasy draft you had visions of taking home the hardware in your league.  After, he is LT.  He had seven straight season with 1600+ total yards and 10+ TDs.  To say he hasn’t lived up to his top billing is a gross understatement.  In fact, Michael Turner, his former backup, has nearly twice as many TDs (13 to 7).  Three times this year LT has been held under 70 total yards without a TD.  He has just two 100-yard games and two multi-TD games, items that have been staples of LT’s storied career.

Well folks, if you’ve hung on through his ups and downs to be in the playoffs, it’s time to collect your dividends.  First up is Oakland.  LT simply terrorizes them when he squares off against them.  In fifteen career games against the Raiders he has 2077 total yards (138.5 per game) and 21 TDs (1.4 per game).  The Raiders rank 29th against the rush with 158.8 yards allowed per game at 4.6 yards per carry, along with 17 rushing scores.  LT had his best game of the season against Oakland back in Week 4 when he ran for 106 yards and 2 TDs. 

If he moves you into Round 2 of the playoffs, you can take advantage of another soft matchup against Kansas City.  They are even worst against the run allowing 163.7 yards per game at 5.0 yards per carry with 20 rushing TDs.  He hasn’t quite shared the same success against the Chiefs (126.7 ypg & 0.8 TDs), including being held without a TD back in Week 10, but clearly he’s had his way with them. 

These two matchups could go a long way in justifying his draft position.  He has favorable matchups the next two weeks that very well could put you in your league’s championship game.  He draws Tampa Bay in Week 16, who has only allowed one rushing TD all year.  With that tough matchup he may not deliver a fantasy title, but he should help you get in the door.  At that point anything can happen.

What to do about LT?

16 September 2008

LT is off to a slow start and has been hampered by a toe injury.  He started slow in his first three games last year, but turned it around.  He was relatively slow in his first two games of 2003 & 2005 as well.  So will he bounce back or is he set to take a Marshall Faulk/Shaun Alexander type plunge?

I say he will bounce back and will avoid Faulk/SA type plunge, but I don’t see the LT of old surfacing.  That doesn’t mean he’s not going to have a solid year, but I’m not predicting another 1400+ yard, 15 TD season for him.  I’m putting him more on a 1200 yard, 10 TD season.  Still good, but not what you invested your first pick for.

So what do you do with him?  You entertain offers, that’s what you do.  If you are in a Keeper League I think you should definitely put your feelers out and see what you can get for him.  If you can get a top back that’s five years younger plus an upgrade at WR, you’d be foolish not to contemplate moving your franchise player.  Unless you feel you are poised to make a run this year, you’re better off getting top value in return for LT and you won’t see a dramatic dip in your production next year.  Perhaps the owners in your league are anticipating this move on your part and aren’t willing to let you raid their shelves.  If that’s the case then you’re better off holding on to him until he breaks out.  At that point you will have a better feel for your team and the direction it’s going.  If you are in a non-keeper league then it gets trickier.  You too have to entertain offers, but you need help right now…and a lot of it.  You won’t have a couple of years to make up for the dip in production you might experience this year.  You need to get a RB that is pretty high end as well as some serious upgrading in other position(s).  I mean he does get to face Oakland and Kansas City four times.  You think he can’t rack up 400-600 yards and 6 TDs against them?  Not to mention Miami this week if he’s healthy enough to get on track.  New Orleans, Atlanta, and the Colts.  That could be another 400-600 yards and 6 TDs.  Take a look at his playoff schedule.  Oakland in Week 14 and Kansas City in Week 15.  He could punch your ticket to your fantasy Super Bowl. 

In summary, if you are an LT owner check the pulse of your league and see what you can get for LT.  If you are getting great value, you may want to pull the trigger.  In a keeper league, I’d be much more willing to let him go.  He’s going to be on the wrong side of 30 next year, and he has close to 2400 carries on his career.  You want to hit the eject button before he crashes and burns on you.  In a non-keeper league don’t bite unless you get a Don Corleone deal.

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