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Spin Doctors: LJ or S-Jax?

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The first tough choice a fantasy football owner is likely to encounter in '07 drafts is who to take at No. 2 after LaDanian Tomlinson is off the board. Conventional wisdom has pared down the options to Kansas City RB Larry Johnson and St. Louis RB Steven Jackson, the No. 2 and No. 3 highest-scoring running backs, respectively, in Yahoo! default leagues last season. So who should get the nod at No. 2? Yahoo! Sports fantasy spin doctors Brandon Funston and Matt Buser have differing opinions and they offer up their arguments (in 250 words or less) for your consideration:

Funston says
Buser says
Larry Johnson's 1,789 rushing yards and 19 TDs in '06 came with an NFL-record 416 carries. Those who wish to cut-down LJ's fantasy value will point to that number and head coach Herm Edwards' supposed desire to lighten his workload. That argument would hold a lot more water if Kansas City had someone else to lean on. But, when you consider the alternatives to an all-LJ, all the time offense, you start looking at names like Michael Bennett, Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Eddie Kennison, Dwayne Bowe. Only the aging Tony Gonzalez conjurs any semblence of optimism among the K.C. also-rans.

LJ has proven to be perfectly-suited for a heavy workload. He's played in 38 straight regular-season games, averaging 23 carries, 107 rushing yards and scoring a total of 51 TDs. Fret all you want about his offensive line, but the line was pretty shoddy last season and he still managed 11 100-yard games, and that was with opposing defenses fully aware of where the ball was going. If Edwards has any hope of getting back to the postseason, he'll put the ball in LJ's hands 350-plus times on the ground.

In my mind, Steven Jackson is the bigger work-reduction concern. The Rams are overflowing with proven talent (Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett, Randy McMichael) and they have a serious fantasy sleeper backing up Jackson in Brian Leonard, a player that can immediately impact as a runner, receiver and blocker.

All things consider, I'll take LJ in 2007.

Steven Jackson is the choice after LaDainian Tomlinson in this year's fantasy drafts, ahead of Larry Johnson. Chiefs coach Herm Edwards has said that "you won't see" Johnson carry the ball 400-plus times this season, so, although he figures to be a bit more active in the passing game, he's going to lose touches overall. Jackson is more likely to catch 60-70 passes this season than 90, but the new additions in the passing game are going to force defenses to defend the Rams' passing game to an even greater extent, making life a bit easier for Jackson on the ground.

The Chiefs are very likely to be starting Brodie Croyle at quarterback this season, and opposing defenses will stack the line, forcing Croyle to beat them and making the going tougher for Johnson. The Chiefs lost a key member of their offensive line (Will Shields), while the Rams are getting one back from injury (Orlando Pace).

Johnson is facing concerns on the offensive line, is likely to have an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, was rumored to be on the trading block in the offseason, and the lack of a new contract now looms. While Jackson is not completely devoid of question marks, he is in a much better position to repeat last year's overall success, and has an outside shot at topping it. Considering that the two were nearly identical in fantasy scoring in 2006, I'm going with Jackson in 2007.

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