LaDainian Tomlinson
LaDainian Tomlinson
40-Year-Old Running BackRB
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for LaDainian Tomlinson in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Restructured his contract with the Jets in July of 2011.
RBFree Agent
June 17, 2012
Tomlinson will sign a contract with San Diego so he can retire as a member of the Chargers, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Tomlinson will make the announcement official on Monday. It's a fitting end to the hall of famer's career - ending his career where it started. He'll retire second all-time in rushing touchdowns (145) and fifth all-time in rushing yards (13,684).
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Receiving Alignment Breakdown
See where LaDainian Tomlinson lined up on the field and how he performed at each spot.
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2019 LaDainian Tomlinson Split Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
After getting just 3.3 YPC in 2009, it appeared Tomlinson might be done, but he bounced back and totaled 1,282 yards with six touchdowns last season. A big improvement going from San Diego’s offensive line to New York’s certainly helped, and Tomlinson continued to run hard. Still, the end is near. After averaging 4.9 YPC over the first half of the season, Tomlinson dropped to 3.3 during the second half, and he’s requested the Jets decrease his carries in 2011, content to be solely the team’s third-down back. It’s for the best, as Tomlinson is 32 and has accrued a whopping 3,099 career rushing attempts.
Tomlinson scored 12 touchdowns last year, but there’s an argument he was the worst running back in the NFL. Consider those scores came on 38 carries inside the 10-yard line, the second-most in the league. Moreover, Tomlinson’s 28 attempts at the goal line were the second-most since 2004, and his 3.3 YPC mark (despite playing for the league’s No. 4 ranked offense) was tied for 52nd in the NFL. Not to pile on, but Tomlinson’s 1.9 YPC after contact also tied for the worst mark in football. He’s in a good situation in New York, and maybe coach Rex Ryan gives him more carries than he deserves, but Tomlinson is clearly a shell of his former self.
Tomlinson’s final numbers last year weren’t so bad: 1,536 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Of course, 25 percent of those TDs came in Week 17 against a helpless Broncos defense, and there remains plenty to be pessimistic about moving forward. Tomlinson once again played all 16 games, as he’s missed just one during his eight-year career. However, a lingering toe injury limited his effectiveness greatly, as his 1,110 rushing yards marked a career low. His YPC has dropped for consecutive seasons, and last year’s 3.8 clip is a red flag moving forward. Maybe the toe injury was solely to blame, but Tomlinson lacked his usual burst last season, and his inability to cut was obvious. Despite his impressive durability over his career, Tomlinson tore a knee ligament at the end of 2007 and was banged up throughout 2008, so it would be unwise to bank on continued health in the future. In fact, his last two seasons have ended with serious injuries that would have sidelined him multiple weeks, but it just doesn’t seem as bad because one occurred in the postseason while the other was in Week 17, costing him zero regular season games. Tomlinson was 7-for-15 converting goal-line attempts for touchdowns last year and is always active in the passing game. Plenty of running backs have remained productive at age 30, but few have done so with Tomlinson’s mileage – his 2,657 career-carry total is staggering. Philip Rivers developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and with Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates as weapons, the Chargers’ offense looks potent, so Tomlinson remains in a fine situation. Darren Sproles emerged as a terrific alternative last year, and though coach Norv Turner insists Tomlinson will remain his workhorse, Sproles is too explosive not to be more involved. The huge workload will eventually catch up to Tomlinson, and it’s always better to bail a year too soon than a year too late. When running backs reach the end, the fall is usually fast and steep.
Although he couldn't match his record-setting 2006 season, Tomlinson approached 2,000 total yards with 18 touchdowns last year. He led the NFL in rushing and remained active in the passing game. However, his season ended bitterly, when he suffered a torn MCL that rendered him useless in the AFC Championship game. Tomlinson did not require surgery on the injured left knee, but the expected six-week recovery period lasted much longer than anticipated, as he still called himself "90 percent" in May. He'll be 29 entering this season, which isn't ancient, but the mileage he's accrued over his career is the more worrisome issue. To put it in perspective, he has 433 more touches in his career than Shaun Alexander. Of course, Tomlinson keeps himself in excellent shape and is a fierce competitor, but no one is super-human, and averaging 403 touches per year over seven seasons will take its toll on anyone. Tomlinson doesn't quite have the breakaway speed he used to, but he's a fantastic receiver out of the backfield and led the NFL with 13 carries of 20-plus yards last season. After converting a remarkable 27-of-44 goal-line attempts for scores in 2005 and 2006, he dropped to just 5- of-18 last year. Tomlinson doesn't possess as much risk as an Adrian Peterson, but just realize he's also not quite as safe as the track record indicates, given his age and heavy workload. It's also the first time in recent memory he doesn't possess the highest ceiling, but even a past-his-prime Tomlinson could easily outproduce the rest of the league.
Flat-out dominant. Tomlinson’s 2006 season was one of the greatest ever by an NFL running back. Breaking the record for most touchdowns scored in a single-season set just one year prior by Shaun Alexander, Tomlinson found pay dirt 31 times. He also added 2,323 total yards for good measure. Tomlinson will be 28 when the season starts, and he’s missed just one game throughout his career, so durability isn’t a major issue. Last season’s 394 touches were actually just the third most of his career, and San Diego’s early playoff exit is actually good news for Tomlinson’s 2007 outlook. If Michael Turner remains a Charger, that isn’t necessarily bad news either, as it will prevent Tomlinson from being overworked and gives fantasy owners a reliable backup. Tomlinson is the NFL’s best running back, combining speed and power like no other. Elusive in the open field with breakaway speed, Tomlinson also converted 23 goal-line carries into 15 touchdowns, the best rate of any back in the league with at least 10 attempts. The San Diego offense should continue to be formidable, as Philip Rivers proved more than capable during his first season as a starter and is likely to improve this year. What’s uncertain, however, is how San Diego’s coaching changes will affect things. Norv Turner replaces Marty Schottenheimer as coach, and Clarence Shelmon takes over for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Turner has his flaws as a head coach, but an inability to produce big numbers from his running backs isn’t one of them. Turner was the architect of the Cowboys offenses in the 90s that made Emmitt Smith a perennial top fantasy back. And after helping guide Frank Gore to a breakout 2006 campaign, Turner returns for his second stint with San Diego, as he helped Tomlinson reach 1,236 rushing yards during his rookie season. The Chargers still run the same offense that Turner implemented in 2001, so the switch figures to be seamless. Cam Cameron might be missed, but new OC Shelmon was the team’s running backs coach, so he knows how to utilize Tomlinson. Chances are, most fantasy teams with Tomlinson finished at or near the top of the standings last year, as he carried teams for stretches. Tomlinson scored multiple touchdowns in eight consecutive weeks last year, totaling 21 during that span. While a repeat of the 2006 numbers seems unlikely, his downside is 1,800 total yards and 13 touchdowns. For those lucky enough to get the first draft pick, it’s a no-brainer, go with Tomlinson.
For the second straight season, Tomlinson’s numbers were down from his 2002-2003 peak. It’s not that his production was bad, far from it. Your perspective would have to be very skewed to think that 1,462 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns was anything but a great year, but the expectations for Tomlinson’s career were set just a little bit higher following his second and third campaigns. There are two things eroding Tomlinson’s totals. Antonio Gates’ emergence has opened up and diversified the Chargers offense, and allowed them to ease Tomlinson’s workload. The effect is most noticeable in Tomlinson’s receiving totals: he caught 179 passes in ’02 and ’03, but only 104 in ’04 and ’05. He’s still the team’s main red-zone weapon (153 touches inside the 20 over the last two seasons, compared to just 36 for Gates), and his TD totals have been steady, but San Diego no longer has to get Tomlinson the ball three times in a set of downs to keep the offense moving. The second factor is Tomlinson’s health. Last year his ribs held him back; the year before, a nagging groin injury slowed him down. He’s only actually missed one game over the last two seasons, but has seen plenty of action at much less than 100 percent. Having to carry the load himself for two seasons did him no favors in that department. It’s worth noting though that a similarly-sized feature back named Curtis Martin (both are 5-11, though Tomlinson carries about 10 extra pounds on his frame) also battled through some nagging injuries in his third and fourth NFL seasons before reeling off 96 straight games played over six years. Tomlinson almost certainly won’t duplicate that feat, but as one of the NFL’s bigger workout fiends he isn’t necessarily headed for a major breakdown. The wild card in 2006 (for the entire Chargers offense, not just Tomlinson) is how the team responds with Drew Brees out of the picture and Philip Rivers under center. Rivers has thrown just 30 passes in the NFL since being drafted, and he’s two career TD passes behind his starting running back. Given that the young QB has had two years to learn the system before being handed the keys, it’s entirely possible that San Diego won’t miss a beat. And, of course, if Rivers does struggle, that simply might force the team to rely more on getting the ball into Tomlinson’s hands. But the uncertainty surrounding the Chargers’ attack has to be a slight concern.
A funny thing happened to Tomlinson last season – his team got good. And while you’d think that would vault him into the territory of Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis in their prime, it somehow did the opposite. Sure, the 17 touchdowns were nice, but he rushed for 310 less yards and caught 47 less passes for 284 less yards than in 2003. Of course, Tomlinson sat out a few fourth quarters with a groin strain, and also missed the last game of the season against the generous Chiefs defense because San Diego’s playoff seed was locked, but even with the time off, he actually had 26 more carries than in 2003. And while San Diego’s offensive improvement got Tomlinson more red-zone touches (87 in 2004 vs. 50 in 2003), and more than double the touches inside the five (31 in ’04, 13 in ’03), he scored just four more rushing touchdowns and only one more total touchdown. Tomlinson just happened to be far less effective on a per-carry basis than he had been in the past, averaging just 3.9 per carry compared to 5.4 in 2003. A lot of that likely had to do with the groin strain he suffered toward the end of the Oct. 3 Tennessee game. To that point, Tomlinson averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but from that point on, he averaged a paltry 3.6. Tomlinson’s “off year” still made him worthy of a high first-round pick, and the Chargers’ improvement should continue to get him increased looks in the red zone. The big workload that continued last season despite his injury is the chief concern here, but given Tomlinson’s year-round work ethic, he might be one of the rare backs – Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith come to mind – who can handle it.
The only possible knock on Tomlinson is his incredible workload to date (averaging over 400 touches per year in the NFL). Well, that and being a Charger. Tomlinson’s explosiveness allowed San Diego to lead the NFL with 30 percent of rushing yards gained more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage (vs. 18 percent for the NFL average team). The Chargers ranked sixth in the league in converting short-yardage runs, and Tomlinson scored 10 times on his 25 attempts inside the 10 (a good percentage on a fairly average amount of goal-line opportunities). Tomlinson started slowly (only four rushing TDs in September and October) last season, and there’s no denying that he was especially hurt by the Chargers’ inability to keep the chains moving with proficient passing (29th in third-down conversions). Although it’s doubtful that this year’s first-round draft pick Philip Rivers will play worse than Drew Brees did last year, he’s unlikely to be much better. So expect some valleys, but consider Tomlinson’s peaks – 13 TDs in the second half of the season, including four games with over 190 yards from scrimmage. The AFC West remains a weak defensive division (Tomlinson averaged over six yards per carry in division games). If the Chargers, who replaced six offensive linemen this offseason, could be even mediocre this year, look out. Tomlinson averaged an incredible 6.42 yards on 142 carries when the Chargers were ahead or tied.
LT has led the NFL in touches the last two years. He had 398 his rookie year, then 451 last season. At this point, even Tomlinson's fantasy owners would probably agree that less would be more, when it comes to setting a workload. While the Chargers focused mostly on defense at the draft, they did get a couple of puzzle pieces in free agency that should help Tomlinson. Fullback Lorenzo Neal is considered the NFL's best blocker at that position, and wide receiver David Boston is a Pro Bowl talent on the outside, if he feels like playing up to his potential, anyway. If Neal and Boston do what the Chargers expect, Tomlinson could easily match his 2,172 total yards and 15 touchdowns from a year ago – but perhaps do it with 50-75 less touches.
More Fantasy News
RBFree Agent
May 21, 2012
Tomlinson could be a perfect fit for the Chargers as a third-down back and mentor to Ryan Mathews if both sides could find a way to swallow some pride, the San Diego North County Times reports.
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RBFree Agent
May 7, 2012
Tomlinson recently told Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated that he is "95 percent retired," the National Football Post reports.
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RBFree Agent
May 3, 2012
Tomlinson is among the slew of veteran backs still looking for a gig in the wake of the NFL draft.
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RBNew York Jets
January 2, 2012
Tomlinson had 11 carries for 56 yards and four catches for 23 yards in Sunday's loss at Miami.
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RBNew York Jets
January 1, 2012
Tomlinson (quadriceps) is active for Sunday's game at Miami.
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