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Veteran performances

LaDainian Tomlinson has yet to run for more than 71 yards in any game this season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In honor of Veterans Day, lets take a look at some of the NFL "veterans" who are playing above and below the expectations set for them when they were selected in August. Only players 30 years-or-older need apply.

In general, most of the "over 30" running backs are struggling this year, while those quarterbacks and receivers who have managed to reach this ripe old age have played as good or better than expected.

Of the four "veteran" running backs who were selected in the top-100 overall on Draft Day, three - Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Lewis must be classified as disappointments.

Westbrook, who had off-season surgery and got a late start in camp, has run well when given the opportunity (4.8 ypc), but because of his injuries and a concussion has only had 41 rushing attempts. The addition of rookie LeSean McCoy to the Philadelphia Eagles backfield has definitely taken it's toll on Westbrook, who can no longer be classified as a fantasy star. He had a RapidDraft ADP of 7.6 in August, but next year might not be drafted in the first four rounds.

Many "experts" thought Tomlinson would have a bounce back season in 2009 after suffering through a toe injury for most of 2008. They reasoned that even with all his injuries last year, he still managed 1,536 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, so a healthy Tomlinson could still produce a high level of fantasy points. Tomlinson has been relatively healthy in 2009, but has yet to run for more than 71 yards in any game this season. His RapidDraft ADP of 8 was way too high and fantasy owners are paying for the drafting mistake every time they see Chris Johnson break off another 50-yard touchdown run.

Those who expected the Cleveland offense to score and Lewis to produce almost 1,200 yards as in 2008 have been wildly mistaken. The Browns offense is ranked 31st (of 32 teams) and Lewis has 419 totals yards from scrimmage but no touchdowns. Lewis had one good game against Buffalo (doesn't everyone?) otherwise he's scored less than 12 points in every game this season.

The exception at running back is Thomas Jones who seems to be getting better with age, not slowing down. He put up the best fantasy numbers of his career in 2008 (1,519 yards from scrimmage, 15 TDs) and in 2009 has 753 yards and seven TDs through eight games. That's better than expected from a third-round selection on Draft Day (ADP 27.3)

Unlike running backs, most of the "veteran" receivers around the league are showing they still have something left in the tank.

New England receiver Randy Moss (32 years-old) is still the most dangerous receiver in the game. Moss has four 100+ yard games this season and 712 yards and five TDs total. With Tom Brady back at quarterback another 1,400+ yard season seems to be a certainty.

Reggie Wayne turned 30-years old last year, but certainly hasn't slowed down. He's third in receptions with 59 catches and second in yards receiving with 753. The Peyton Manning-to-Wayne hook up should be good for at least four more years.

Chad Ochocinco has had a "re-birth" in 2009, which not coincidentally corresponds with the return of Carson Palmer at quarterback. Number 85 already has more yards (639-540) and touchdowns (5-4) than last year and is headed for a seventh 1,000-yard season. A very nice return for your sixth-round investment (RapidDraft ADP 52.2).

Hines Ward gets better with age. After struggling in 2007 (71-732-7) Ward cracked the 1,000-yard barrier last year and already has 646 yards and four touchdowns this season. As a seventh-round pick (ADP 61.3), he's a bargain.

Donald Driver is putting together a sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season, but on Draft Day he didn't get much respect. Big mistake! Driver has 613 yards (ninth- best) and four touchdowns. Considering his ADP of 79.1 he's another bargain.

Dallas Clark turned 30 in June, but that hasn't stopped the Colts' tight end from having his best season ever. He already as accumulated 60 catches and 703 yards. Clark had 14 receptions last week for 119 yards and only cost you a seventh-round pick.

The only "veteran" disappointments at receiver are Terrell Owens (ADP 38.3) and Torry Holt (ADP 80.5). Did you really expect the Trent Edwards-to-Owens hook up to work? Shame on you.

There are six quarterbacks who qualify in the 30-or-older age group and top-100 selection on Draft Day (Brady, Manning, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Palmer) and all are playing well. But that's normal for the position. The inferior quarterbacks are "weeded" out by this age and only the best remain.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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