Infallible as he may seem, LaDainian Tomlinson will turn 30 before next year‘s draft. So, although LT made the overall number one pick in the past few years’ drafts fairly simple, and for now, he remains as safe and potent as any option. As he approaches the big three-o, we have to wonder if he will still have what it takes to remain the undisputed number one option next season. Because it’s never too early to prepare for 2009, let’s examine five potential players who could dethrone LT as king of next season’s drafting class.
Brian Westbrook (Odds: 2-1)
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and seeing Brian Westbrook on the weekly injury report. I don’t know how much fluid one can possibly have in their knees – has anyone contacted Guinness about it? – but he must have a lot to have it drained on such a frequent basis. Despite the constant concerns about his durability on Game Day, Westbrook usually finds a way to get on the field. When he does, he provides fantasy football nirvana for his proud owners. PPR owners take note; in 2007, he caught 90 receptions and no one else came even close. Reggie Bush finished in second with 73, and Tomlinson finished in third with 60. Until the Philadelphia Eagles find a true number one receiver, expect Donovan McNabb to continue to rely on Westbrook as his favorite security blanket. If he can stay healthy, expect Westbrook to challenge LT for the top spot in ’09.
Adrian Peterson (Odds: 3-1)
Like many, I doubted his talent, but raise your hand if you thought he would rack up 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season. I thought so. While I try to decide if Peterson is the real deal, I continue to wonder if sharing time with Chester Taylor is keeping him fresh or holding him back. AP gobbled up over 500 rushing yards and scored six touchdowns last season in two games against the Bears and Chargers defenses, who were not exactly pushovers. In order for Peterson to climb to number one, he will have to prove more reliable and consistent. Although he did rush for over 100 yards in six contests, two were by a nose and his season finished in a very un-LT-like manner rushing for fewer than 80 yards in each of his four final games. If Peterson can stay durable and avoid the sophomore slump, “All Day” may be the Viking to your liking.
Steven Jackson (Odds: 5-1)
Tom Brady (7-1)
If you played against Brady last November 28th, you were probably giddy when he
only threw for 380 yards and scored one touchdown. Heck, you were pretty fortunate to get away with such an easy beating. After all, Brady threw 30 touchdowns in the first three months and finished with a record-setting 50. Since he fizzled by
only for throwing 12 touchdowns in the final six games of the season, many doubt that Brady will even come close to his ’07 totals. I tend to agree. Whether the planets were in perfect alignment or Moss and Brady signed a contract with the Devil, owners will be clawing to get a piece of Tom Terrific if he can do it again. (Note: Dear Tom, next time you sign a contract with the Devil, make sure to read the fine print – as “amassing insurmountable success in the season” doesn’t always imply a carryover effect in the Super Bowl).
Frank Gore (Odds: 20-1)
Gore PO’ed a lot of owners last season who drafted him in the Top 5, and with more visits to the ER than George Clooney, he has also shown a propensity to get hit hard by the injury bug. Furthermore, a weak supporting 49er cast made it easy for defenders to stack the box and keep him in check. While many former fans have since jumped off of the Gore bandwagon, I remain a firm believer in his talents. Coach Mike Martz has pledged to focus the offense around Gore, and PPR owners who draft him will relish all of the short passes thrown his way. I am so convinced of Gore’s awesome potential this season that I traded LT in a deal to get him. We’ll have to wait until December to see if I am crazy like a fox or just plain crazy. However, to those who doubt Martz’s ability to turn running backs into weapons of mass destruction, I say “Faulk you.”