Random Pro of the Week: Natrone Means

Drafting for fantasy football involves a little bit of skill and a lot of luck. Sure, there is always going to be the guaranteed studs like Tom Brady or Steven Jackson or LaDainian Tomlinson from 2001-2008 who you know are just going to put up numbers.

But, finding the sleepers the keepers and avoiding the flash-in-the-pans is what makes a fantasy player a league champ.

If you were drafting in 1995, Natrone Means was going to be a first-round pick, no doubt.

He was coming off a 1,350-yard season with 12 touchdowns and carried the Chargers to the Super Bowl. It was a superb rushing season.

The future looked so bright, he had to wear shades.

(Means’ 1994 season is incredibly close to Michael Turner’s 2010 season and Turner is considered one of the NFL’s top backs. Of course, Turner has sustained it longer than Means did.)

Yet, if you drafted Means, you were headed for a fifth-place (or lower) finish.

That season was it as far as Means was concerned. He topped 850 yards and scored more than five touchdowns just once during the rest of his career. He was a fluke, a flash-in-the-pan that many of this year’s fantasy owners are hoping doesn’t happen to Arian Foster.

Some might argue with that theory because Means played for five more seasons and was a force during Jacksonville’s 1996 playoff run to the AFC Championship Game.

But nothing lived up to that 1994 season.

Means was a national hit. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. T-shirts were made that said “Natrone Means Business” and he seemed like a player on the verge of super-stardom. He was even part of the Starting Lineup 1995 class which included Marshall Faulk, Drew Bledsoe and Joe Montana, among others. Means was suddenly in a new NFL class.

Or so we thought.

Now, anyone caught wearing one of his jerseys is instantly featured on Straight Cash Homey. That’s not where you want to end up as a former player.

The 1994 season was a bad one for L.A. football fans as both the Raiders and Rams left. While the Chargers were heading to the Super Bowl, a lot of SoCal fans jumped on the bandwagon and haven’t left it since the San Diego Super Chargers are the only team in Southern California and have been relatively successful.

No doubt Means was a big part of helping that transition. I owned one of those “Natrone Means Business” shirts which I purchased not long after the Raiders’ last game in L.A. By the end of 1995, it ended up in the Goodwill basket.

Of course, the Chargers got steamrolled in the Super Bowl by the 49ers. Which, oddly enough, seems like a fitting sendoff to Means. A meteoric rise followed by an equally rapid descent.

Now, instead of being considered a former NFL star, he is a Random Pro of the Week.


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