Shaft – LT ’03
Some how, after a month of thinking about this selection I decided it would be best to go with Peyton Manning and I passed on both players. Horrible mistake and I paid the price by missing the playoffs for the first time in the three-year history of the WTNY fantasy football league.
Coming into the 2003 draft, I was determined to get my man, as I figured passing on Holmes would be a good idea, seeing that he sustained a hip injury at the end of the previous season.
Yup, Tomlinson was on my board and with the first pick in the draft, I made darn sure he wasn’t going to light it up for anyone else.
While the Chargers had high expectations heading into that season, with the addition of then stud receiver David Boston, things didn’t turn out that way. Quickly, fortunes turned ill as the Chargers started out slow and Tomlinson posted an up and down beginning to the season.
Most fantasy players tend to need a good cast around them to succeed at a high level, and while the Chargers only won four games in 2003, Tomlinson had one of the better years of his career.
LT, The Shaft Of Fantasy Football
This is why I compare to Tomlinson as Shaft, because he’s a bad mama jama and he don’t take mess from no one. “So we’re down by 20?” “Who cares give me the football.”
“I’ve got to beat three guys in front of me?” “Watch me drop a few moves in the open field and finish the final guy off with a shut your mouth stiffy to the face.”
Yeah, old Tomlinson was sure good back in the day, but it was his 100 receptions that really set him apart in my mind. Even when teams did take the running game away, a young Tomlinson could make you pay with Drew Brees looking his way.
As a side note, when we think about Brees helping Tomlinson to his lofty total, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised that Darren Sproles came to New Olreans and was used the way he was.
Anyway, unlike stars of today like Adrian Peterson who never shows up in December, what really set him apart that year was his tear in the fantasy playoffs.
In week fifteen I needed him to step up in a big way if I was going to make the Super Bowl. I knew he would face one of the better run defenses in the Green Bay Packers, and was hoping he could some how duplicate his receiving numbers from the week before against a weak Lions defense, torching them for nine receptions for 148 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
“No way could he do that again,” and as the game wore on it appeared a great season might turn just shy from reaching the big game as I’ve actually had trouble with many years (it’s like a curse or something) in this freaking league.
For the game Tomlinson ran the football 20 times for only 51 yards on the ground, but to even my surprise he light the Packers secondary up in the second half for 11 receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns. It was the type of video game moment in time that makes any fantasy owner not only jump up and down, but find themselves shaking their head in disbelief.
The next week, Tomlinson didn’t have a monster game but he did find the end zone twice which wasn’t bad considering the Chargers were on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was enough to help me win my first championship in the Wait Till Next Year Fantasy Football League.
End Of A Great Career
Oddly enough as I write this, Tomlinson has announced his retirement from the game this week, and this was the only season I had him on my team in this league. Not bragging but most years I make the playoffs and consequently Tomlinson was always out of reach, until the time it was clear he wasn’t worth a high round pick.
Funny how some players seem to be a good-luck charm for some fantasy owners, for while he went on to have some big years after 2003, it always seemed he’d have one of his weaker performances the games I matched up against him. Even if he did go off, I wouldn’t have held it against him, because that run he put up at the end of ’03 on a bad team, was truly something to remember.
Thanks for the memories Tomlinson and good luck in whatever you choose to do with the rest of your days.