Chargers backfield could hold fantasy sleeper

The release of LaDainian Tomlinson will create an opportunity for someone to step in and lead the Chargers backfield in 2010. The runner who eventually lands that role could also end up being one of next season’s best sleeper candidates.

As it stands, Darren Sproles and Marcus Mason are the lone true tailbacks on the roster.

Sproles is an explosive and exciting playmaker. But at 5-foot-6 and 185 pounds, he’s not a featured back.

The same holds true of Mason, who was added for depth purposes alone after the release of Michael Bennett.

Free agent Thomas Jones would be a nice stopgap option, but the San Diego Union-Tribune, citing sources, reports that the Chargers are not interested in any of the current free-agent running backs.

If that is accurate, then the franchise is almost certain to take a running back in either the first or second round of the 2010 NFL Draft in April. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks projects the Bolts to take California’s Jahvid Best with the No. 28 overall selection.

Another option will be Fresno State’s Ryan Matthews, who would be an attractive complement to Sproles because of his size (6-0, 218 pounds) and skill set.

Yes, it will be odd to see someone other than good old No. 21 taking handoffs from Philip Rivers. But whoever earns the role he previously filled could turn into a very valuable asset in fantasy leagues.

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