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General deterioration and a long history of exhaustive workloads haven't been kind to the future Canton honoree. Nagging injuries are more frequent. Sluggish gains, once the exception, are now the norm. And weekly appearances in the statistical top 10 are a rarity.
Based on the 30-year-old's career-low 3.3 yards per carry average, it's clear the dominator has become the dominated. As a result, Vizio sales have plummeted, powder blue No. 21 jersey sales have stalled and owner ambivalence directed toward the popular first-round pick has increased.
But last week against a supposedly staunch Eagles frontline the emptying sands of the hour glass temporarily ceased. Philly, which had surrendered just 3.6 yards per carry to rushers over its previous five games entering the week, was gashed by the revitalized rusher for 96 yards and two scores, the second of which featured vintage explosion (Highlights here). For a day at least, the former fantasy king once again donned a jeweled crown.
Week 10's LT revival raises an interesting dilemma for the fantasy masses. With the trade deadline looming in several leagues, his owners and seekers are presented with the proverbial fork in the road, which raises the inevitable question: To trade or not to trade?
Below are perspectives from both sides of the LT ledger:
Overview: This is a group comprised predominately of players whose playoff aspirations are hanging by a precarious thread. Most, hovering at or near .500, believe they are one marquee player away from creeping into the playoffs. By acquiring LT, they're hopeful their team's "last stand" will be slightly more successful than George Armstrong Custer's.
Purchase Plank: LT covers his body in Billy Idol's Age-Defying Wrinkle Cream (Seriously, at 53, the 80s rocker still looks 35), stiff-arming the eroding effects of Father Time. His soft immediate schedule brightens an otherwise gloomy long-term outlook. Though this week's matchup at Denver is uninspiring, his Week 12 and 13 clashes with KC and Cleveland respectively are very enticing. The Chiefs and Browns have yielded a combined 4.7 yards per carry, 170.2 total yards per game and 1.3 scores to rushers this season. Both rank in the top seven in fantasy points allowed to RBs. Buying on the bear never sounded so good.
Inspirational Quotes: From the San Diego Union-Tribune...
True as that may be, Turner also proclaimed, "We've got to continue to run the ball better."
Turner said yesterday he remains a believer Tomlinson is a viable runner, who simply needs more room to do so.
"It's not even fair to get into that evaluation," Turner said. "When I look at our tapes the last four weeks, when we've given him the opportunity to run, when we've had holes, LT has had good runs. He's had excellent runs. We just need to keep working to get him creases, to get him some running room."
"LT is going to get better looks in the running game," Turner said. "I think he'll have a good second half of the season."
Goal: Slip into the playoffs and pray Tomlinson can overcome difficult matchups at Dallas and home versus Cincinnati to prolong their virtual seasons.
Overview: This is a group composed mostly of original investors. Peeved they shelled out top dollar for marginal production back in August, they're willing to unload the ancient back for a more dependable producer, though at a slashed price. In order to dress up the once-cherished brand name, they've sought the advice of Eva Longoria on how to appropriately deceive buyers with bright red lipstick, Stiletto heels and pushup bras.
Selling Point: The long-term consequences of not dealing LT are rather harsh. In Weeks 14 and 15, the Chargers back faces two defenses, Dallas and Cincinnati, which have mauled backs for most of the season. Combined, the ‘Boys and Bengals have surrendered a mere five touchdowns, 4.0 yards per carry and 83.9 rushing yards per game in 18 contests. Each ranks in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs (Dal: 9th, Cin: 5th). Combine that with concerns over the Bolts' horrendous run-blocking and emphasis on Philip Rivers'(notes) arm, and the urge to sell is insatiable.
Inspirational Quotes: From Yahoo!'s own Michael Silver...
Tomlinson undoubtedly hopes that Sunday can be a springboard for a strong second half of the season, a successful playoff run and a chance to continue his career in San Diego until he decides he's ready to step away. But the man is a realist – the Chargers seriously considered releasing him after last season before bringing him back with a restructured (but not reduced) contract, and there's no guarantee he'll return in 2010.
After the previous Sunday's stirring victory at Giants Stadium, Tomlinson sounded like a veteran who knew the finish line was near. "I've been through a lot in my career; it's hard work," Tomlinson told the Union-Tribune. "I don't want to say I'm coming to the end. But I don't know if I'll ever be in this stadium again. You cherish certain moments. That's one I'll remember forever."
Goal: Salvage whatever profit possible before the inevitable slide back into mediocrity occurs during the most critical time of the year.
Bottom line: A strong argument could be made for LT on either side of the ledger. Taking a specific stance is dependent on your team's current situation.
Though century-mark performances are unlikely, he should produce roughly 80-90 total yards with multiple scores leading up to fantasy's second season against the Chiefs and Chihuahuas. Conversely, his efforts at Dallas and versus Cincinnati during Rounds 1 and 2 will likely eliminate owners from championship contention, a cold reality.
As for this week, the expecting papa will likely be trampled by a Denver team determined to establish supremacy in the AFC West. On defense, the Broncos have played bend-don't-break football in recent weeks. Since Week 6, they've yielded only two rushing scores, but conceded 4.6 yards per carry and 165.5 total yards per game to tugboats. Due to the Chargers' inefficiencies in run-blocking, Elvis Dumervil(notes) and his 3-4 compadres should be able to plug ground gaps with minimal restriction.
In his first encounter with his intradivision nemesis, LT totaled 100 yards, but failed to puncture the end-zone. Numbers in the rematch won't be much different.
Week 11 Fearless Forecast (Lame): 20 carries, 73 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8 fantasy points
If presented with the scenario above, what LT adventure do you choose: Buy/Hold or Sell? What's your Week 11 Fearless Forecast for the five-time Pro Bowl pick? In Billy Idol's massive catalogue of hits – and it is massive – what's your favorite tune (Noise: "Eyes Without a Face" by a mile)? Is Eva Longoria really that hot? Discuss below.
Image courtesy of US Presswire