Spin Doctors: I got five on it; which established back is a top-five selection, LT or D-Will?

LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) was the consensus top running back fantasy choice heading into the '08 season, but DeAngelo Williams(notes) stole his thunder (and lightning) by outpacing all backfield virtuosos, totaling more than 1,500 rushing yards and 20 TDs. Was this a symbolic changing of the guard, or was it just fantasy football being...well, fantasy football? Brandon Funston and Brad "Big Noise" Evans take up the debate with 250 choice words.

Evans' diagnosis:

After years of the Noise's persistent D-Will propaganda, the Little Napoleon finally vacated Elba.

Arguably the finest bargain in '08 drafts, the Panthers rocket paved a path of devastation over the second-half. From Week 8 forward, he averaged an obscene 129 total yards per contest (6.5 YPC) and splashed pay-dirt 16 times. His legendary run vaulted him from bench pauper to pigskin king overnight.

Critics will contend Jonathan Stewart's(notes) anticipated expanded role and Carolina's daunting schedule will make D-Will's unforgettable '08 campaign appear anomalous. Despite the slate and expected 65-35 time-share, it's important to remember he averaged a mere 17 carries per game a year ago, meaning, due to his eagle vision and explosiveness, he can maximize damage with limited opportunities. He also proved deadly against staunch defenses (i.e. at NYG Week 16 [24-108-4]). Keep in mind, John Fox's offense is predicated on the run. Also, with Jake Delhomme(notes) another year removed from TJ surgery, the passing attack should improve, opening up holes on the ground.

LT's workout regimen is otherworldly, but at an ancient 30, he's starting to show signs of deterioration. Last season's injury-marred campaign proves drafting him in Round 1 is an enhanced risk. Darren Sproles(notes) is earning a starter's salary for a reason. Even though the former MVP has reportedly rediscovered his mojo, the pocket rocket will undoubtedly wrest away a sizable amount of carries.

Both backs aren't doubt-free, but Williams' high expectations, quality line, tread-heavy tires and soaring confidence in Delhomme label him the safer first round choice

Funston's retort:

Reports of LaDainian Tomlinson's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Prematurely casting LT into the metaphorical sunset will be the biggest mistake owners make in '09. In my best Allen Iverson voice, I say, "We're talking about turf toe?" I'm not about to downgrade LT simply because a jammed digit sapped him of his usual electricity in ‘08. It was a fluke, yet he still logged the seventh-best fantasy season at running back.

Few keep themselves as physically fit as LT, so I'm not sweating the 30 candles that will adorn his birthday cake on June 23rd. While many in the fantasy community are calling him over the hill, I'm wondering when he'll finally miss the second game of his career -- he's only missed one so far.

While many are claiming that he's breaking down and is soon to join Darren Sproles in Platoonville, his head coach is saying things like, "I'd expect him (LT) to be in the 320s (carries). He can handle it, and he'll be prepared to handle it. When it fits, we're going to use Darren. (But) I believe he can be a 1,500-yard rusher and a guy who catches 50 balls."

LT is validating the claim by reportedly looking every bit his vintage self at May OTAs.

With all the patsies LT has lined up - third-easiest SOS based upon the '08 numbers of the defenses he'll face - it's not far-fetched to think that he could be king of the RB hill once again in '09.


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