For any fantasy football general manager from the 2000s, it has been an unusual seven days.
LaDainian Tomlinson — one of the best running backs of all time — Brian Wesbrook — the greatest Eagles running back of all time — and Thomas Jones — who is 190 yards behind Earl Campbell on the all-time rushing leaders list — were all released by their respective 2009 teams, beginning with LT last Monday. Well, Jones’ release isn’t official yet, but it will be this week.
The Chinstrap Ninjas believed that Westbrook and Jones, who were still under contract with the Eagles and Jets respectively, would remain with their teams and retain a large portion of carries. We were wrong.
All three backs will find work in 2010, that’s certain. Let’s talk a little about all three and what they bring to the table for respective teams:
Brian Westbrook — With 9,785 yards, Westbrook leaves as the Eagles’ all-time leader in yards from scrimmage. He’s been characterized as the most dangerous Eagles offensive player of all-time, and that’s no stretch. Although his career has been marked by injury, in an injury-free 2007, Westbrook amassed 2,104 yards from scrimmage, including 1,333 rushing and 12 TDs. Last season, just two years later, he was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Westbrook, who will turn 31 before the start of the 2010 season, missed eight games with a pair of concussions and a degenerative knee problem.
LaDainian Tomlinson — Over the last three seasons, LT’s yards and yards per carry plummeted, bottoming out at career lows in 2009. He averaged just 3.3 per rush and finished with 730 yards on 223 carries. Tomlinson has 12,490 yards and 138 TDs in his career and boasts seven straight seasons with 1,200 or more yards. He’ll grab on with a team because he can get into the endzone and can catch the ball out of the backfield. In the right situation, he could be a significant fantasy factor in 2010, the same year he turns 31.
Thomas Jones — Out of the three backs on this list, Jones has the best chance to make a difference in 2010. He’ll turn 32 before the season starts, but has kept himself in great shape and didn’t have more than 138 carries in any season until his fifth in the league. In 2009, at age 31, Jones set career highs with 331 carries, 1,402 yards and 14 TDs. His 9,217 career rushing yards puts him 28th overall, 190 yards behind Earl Campbell. The biggest red flag for Jones is the discrepancy between his YPC during the regular season — an impressive 4.2 — and the playoffs — an alarming 2.6 — last year.
What do you think? Where will Westbrook, LT and Jones end up in 2010?