Brandon Lloyd: Risky Business

I had an article due today, and to be honest I didn’t really know what to write about. There are plenty of ho-hum ideas out there; Deion Branch was recently traded back to the Patriots (no fantasy impact in case you’re wondering), Vincent Jackson apparently will report to the San Diego Chargers but won’t play for a month and when he does, probably won’t see much action, and Justin Bieber shockingly isn’t a fan of Tom Brady’s hairstyle.

So I asked one of my good friends, Evan Ponder, who/what I should write about. His texted response read as follows: “Brandon Lloyd or Terrell Owens. And the title could be “Risky Business” since they are both risky starts.”

Now I don’t know if my editor will choose to follow Mr. Ponder’s advice title-wise, but judging by whatever the title of this piece has ended up being, you can see which direction I went in. Initially, I thought that since Owens is on Bye this week, no one will want to read about him, but I also wasn’t very excited about the prospect of writing about Lloyd. And because of that reaction, I knew that I had to write about him.

No one is talking about this season’s receiving yardage leader. Writing an article about him seemed to be a waste of time. After all, there’s no way that Lloyd could keep his current pace up. This has to be a fluke.

But is it really? LET’S BREAK-IT-DOWN!!!

THE BREAKDOWN!

If you regularly read my columns, then you know that I’m a big historical trends guy. The obvious question with Lloyd and the reason that he may be seen as “risky business,” is whether or not he can continue to produce like he has been through the remainder of the year. After all, Lloyd’s previous single season high for yards and catches is 733 and 48, both of which were set in 2005. This year’s total of 30 catches for 589 yards has him threatening to double his career highs, while he’s also on pace to triple his best TD total in one season (6 in 2004) after already scoring 3 this season.

So we’re clearly venturing into unknown waters with Lloyd here. It’s not unusual, however, to see WRs suddenly jumping into the Top 10 of yards leaders. Dating back to 2005, there has been at least one WR to suddenly catch fire and end the season with more yards than they’ve ever had in any season, before or since. I chose receiving yards because this is the main statistical category which separates Lloyd from the rest of the league.

In 2005, Joey Galloway snuck into the Top 10 for yardage leaders; in 2006, Lee Evans took his place; in 2007, Marques Colston had his best season and wound up in the Top 10; then in 2008, Antonio Bryant cracked the Top 10 for the first and potentially last time in his career, and finally in 2009, Sidney Rice and Miles Austin came out of nowhere to each finish in the Top 5.

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 4:  Wide receiver Joey Galloway #84 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shows some muscle after a touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals at the Raymond James Stadium  on November 4, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Joey Galloway has started this trend of a receiver a year coming out of nowhere to set the fantasy world on fire. Who is Brandon Lloyd to buck the trend?

What’s the lesson to take away from this? Well, thus far, none of these players have cracked the Top 10 of receiving yards again, though Austin looks like a shoe-in to do it this year and for many more seasons; and barring future injuries, Rice should as well. In the past four years, there’s been at least one guy who finds himself in the right system, with the right QB, with the right schedule, in the right physical condition (injury-free), and they consequently make the jump to elite fantasy receiver status. In fact, I would say that the previous list is a pretty good set of guidelines to judge whether or not a receiver has breakout status.

Looking at Lloyd, it becomes clear that he is the prime candidate so far this season to join this relatively exclusive club. He’s a veteran WR who has always had the talent, yet hasn’t always possessed the drive (like Bryant), he’s suffered various injuries throughout his career (like Galloway), he’s in a pass-happy system that suits his talents (like Colston) and he has a QB that, for whatever reason, loves getting him the ball (like Evans). I see no reason why Lloyd can’t end the season in the Top 10 of fantasy WRs and The top 10 of receiving yardage leaders.

Keep in mind that these one-year wonders tend to be just that–one-year wonders. These waiver wire fantasy studs soon come crashing back down to earth. Bryant hasn’t been healthy since that 2008 season, Galloway got old, Evans is stuck in the fantasy wasteland known as Buffalo and Colston has been on the best ball-distributing offense in recent memory. Treasure Lloyd this year, but remember that he will truly be going against history if he manages to have a similar year next season.

Trade Value

If you have strong WRs and haven’t started Lloyd yet due to the relative uncertainty that lingers around him, then you should obviously be looking to trade him. Keep in mind that you should be expecting a high return for Lloyd, one which his current rankings and statistics deserve. Don’t let his lack of name recognition force you into under-selling him; if you need any help in this department, then I suggest you simply show your trade partner this article (obvious plug).

On the other hand, if you are lacking at the WR spot, then I suggest that you cling onto a player that has a chance to end up as the waiver wire claim of the year. You’re probably worried about the Broncos’ lack of a running game. You’re also probably scared that defenses HAVE to eventually figure out how to stop Kyle Orton from throwing for 300 yards every game. The scarier thing may be Orton continuing to throw for 300 yards actually… anyway, you should lay your concerns to rest.

Left on the Broncos’ schedule are games against the worst division in football, the NFC West, then their own division, which, outside of the Kansas City Chiefs, seems to lack any decent pass defenses and a game against the Houston Texans. That schedule doesn’t sound that rough.

Start Lloyd frequently and watch him continue to stay in the Top 10 of receiving leaders/fantasy receivers.

There you have it–the mystery of Brandon Lloyd solved by one of the original Mustang Boys (I’m a member of a local detective group). Thanks for the idea, Ponder/Baby Mustang.


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