Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In many ways, LaDainian Tomlinson was fantasy football's first mainstream superstar, the player who was most productive during the years the game truly took off and became a national obsession.
Tomlinson was regularly a top-three fantasy selection -- often No. 1 overall - during his nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers before fizzling out with the New York Jets in the last two seasons. Now, he plans to retire as a member of the team he scored 160 total touchdowns (138 rushing, 15 receiving, seven passing) with from 2001-10.
LT took over for St. Louis' Marshall Faulk as the games most prolific running back just as fantasy football's popularity was taking off, and he had the staying power that Kansas City's Priest Holmes never did once he hit his peak.
Sure, there were quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning who were just as popular and productive as Tomlinson, but running backs drove fantasy football squads and still do, even if they don't drive real NFL teams as much anymore, and Tomlinson was at the top of the league at that position for eight seasons.
It was Tomlinson's versatility that made him one of fantasy football's favorite running backs in those seasons. After all, not many players were capable of scoring a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown in the same game. Tomlinson did just that on Oct. 16, 2005. He also had two games with both a passing and a rushing touchdown, a game with two rushing TDs and one passing score and one with three rushing TDs and one passing score.
He was a PPR league monster, catching 624 balls for 4,772 yards to go along with his 13,684 rushing yards on 3,174 carries. But it was his touchdown prowess that made him such a wanted man in his prime.
Tomlinson rushed for double-digit touchdowns in all nine seasons with San Diego, playing 127 of a possible 128 games from 2001-2009 before missing two games with nagging injuries in his final season in Southern California.
To fully understand Tomlinson's fantasy greatness, let's break down five of his best seasons to show what an explosive fantasy scorer he was.
5. 2005-06: 16 games, 1,462 yards rushing, 18 rushing touchdowns, 51 catches, 370 yards receiving, two receiving touchdowns - This season could have ranked higher, but LT struggled at the end of the season, scoring just one touchdown with zero 100-yard games in the final five games. Prior to that, he carried teams with 1,086 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 11 games.
4. 2007-08: 16 games, 1,474 yards rushing, 15 rushing touchdowns, 60 catches, 475 yards receiving, three receiving touchdowns - Tomlinson created a nice buy- low opportunity the season after he locked down the MVP. In the first three games, he had zero 100-yard efforts and one rushing touchdowns. But he provided owners with 132 yards and a score in Week 4, 198 yards and four TDs in Week 6 and four straight 100-yard efforts and seven combined touchdowns from Week 13 to Week 16.
3. 2002-03: 16 games, 1,683 yards rushing, 14 rushing touchdowns, 79 catches, 489 yards receiving, one receiving touchdown: LT had two games with 217 or more rushing yards, 10 games with at least one touchdown and seven 100-plus-yard rushing games in addition to seven games with five or more catches.
2. 2003-04: 16 games, 1,645 yards rushing, 13 rushing touchdowns, 100 catches, 725 yards receiving, four receiving touchdowns - This was Tomlinson's best PPR season, as the running back caught five or more passes in nine different games, including 11 or more twice. He also had two 200-plus-yard rushing games and two other games in which he exceeded 162 yards.
1. 2006-07: 16 games, 1,815 yards rushing, 28 rushing touchdowns, 56 catches, 508 yards receiving, two receiving touchdowns - Tomlinson won the NFL MVP award with this ridiculous season. He rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 games, including nine straight from Week 8 to Week 16. He also scored two or more touchdowns in 10 games, including four TDs three times and three TDs three times.