LaDainian Tomlinson has long been the face of the San Diego Chargers running game, but that all ends in 2010. After posting a career worst in stats across the board in 2009, his career in powder blue appears to be over. So what does that mean for the running game in Southern California, and what are the potential fantasy implications?
If your first thought is Darren Sproles, think again. Sproles, who may not even be brought back by the Chargers, is not an every down, lead the team back. He works best as a swift, change of pace back. This means the team will look to either bring in a rookie through the draft, or add a veteran. Perhaps both.
So which scenarios are most likely?
Five Established Options
Willis McGahee - Willie Mac could be a logical choice, especially if the rumors that the Chargers are willing to trade away Antonio Cromartie are true. The Ravens don't really need Willis, and the guy scored a dozen times last season in a part time role. McGahee fits the Chargers downhill running style, and he would pair well with a rookie back or Sproles. A fresh start could reinvigorate his career and make his a solid fantasy option once again.
Willie Parker - Willie P's days in a Steelers uniform are likely over, and Parker would still like another chance to lead a team. That said, I don't know that Parker is much of an upgrade to Sproles, so I don't see the Chargers going this route.
Tashard Choice - The Dallas Cowboys have three potential starting backs in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Choice. Choice is a team favorite in Dallas, but if Jerry Jones could get his claws on Cromartie, it's a deal he might make.
Marshawn Lynch - The Buffalo Bills back is more off field heartache than his on field worth can balance. At least that may be the opinion in New York. Fred Jackson has shown himself to be a more than capable replacement. That said, the Bills don't have much use for Cromartie.
Laurence Mahroney - The New England Patriots are stacked at running back, and they could certainly use Antonio Cromartie's skill set. But would the charges be any better off if they simply went with a rookie instead? Probably. I doubt they could do worse.
Four Untested Rookies
CJ Spiller - It's not likely the Chargers would trade up to grab the speedy and explosive Clemson back when they can find a suitable answer later in the draft, but Spiller could certainly become the next L.T.
Jahvid Best - The California back is not truly a franchise type back. His size and durability may limit him, but he's likely to be there for the Chargers in the first round. They would be better off to wait for round two.
Jonathon Dwyer - The georgia Tech kid is a durable downhill, inside runner. His outside running skills are adaquate, but his pass catching skills need work. He would be a solid fit for the Chargers.
Ryan Mathews - The Fresno State Bulldog, is very much in the same mold as Dwyer above. Perhaps a touch better at the outside running game, but a little worse in the passing game.
Right now the most likely options would be Tashard Choice and/or Jonathon Dwyer.
Take a look at even more 2010 fantasy rankings and articles…