Like Alex Green, the subject of this space yesterday, Brandon Lloyd, assuming his bum knee doesn't keep him out, has inherited a prime opportunity to contribute during the fantasy football postseason. With Julian Edelman (foot) on Injured Reserve, the hyped but thus far disappointing preseason acquisition will get a chance to rediscover his lofty expectations for the New England Patriots.
Lloyd's shaky run blocking won't fill Edelman's shoes, though. This Pats team can pound the football better than most of their recent incarnations. Even with their potent passing, Lloyd still hasn't yet taken advantage of Rob Gronkowski's broken forearm, from which the stud may return in the coming weeks. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez still receive preferential treatment.
In a single game, Lloyd hasn't seen more than seven targets since Week 7, and he hasn't surpassed five receptions or 45 receiving yards since Week 6. He scored his three touchdowns over just two contests this year, including a pair in Week 8, the last time he crossed the goal line via Tom Brady.
The drop-off from the first six weeks of the season has been stark. Recent matchups with cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Sean Smith have aided Brady in shying away from Lloyd's direction. Plus, they've registered two blowout wins of late.
In Week 10, Lloyd got some attention in a closer affair, but he has hardly harkened back to New England's field-stretching days of peak-form Randy Moss, especially with the often shaky protection Brady has received from his front five this season.
Greg Bedard noted it best: "Lloyd, who often runs slow-developing downfield routes, is almost never the easy money. That's just the way it goes."
Bedard added on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show yesterday that Lloyd needs to be more assertive after the catch the way the Pats receivers are required. Bedard and fellow Boston Globe scribe Shalize Manza-Young observed that the wideout has been a bit timid in taking a hit, often going down to the ground or out of bounds immediately after a snare.
Last weekend, Lloyd made more noise than usual after receptions, per Bedard. Hopefully this pushes Lloyd to rekindle his still-better-than-Twilight love connection with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, whom he followed to Foxboro after the strategist boosted Lloyd's stock in Denver and St. Louis. (Aside: Lloyd has been the star of his own meme this year.)
The Houston Texans might just be a Monday night matchmaker. With lockdown CB Johnathan Joseph (groin, hamstring) in and out of their lineup and their dwindling defensive depth in the secondary and middle quartet, Houston has become one of the most vulnerable pass defenses in the NFL. Their inability to generate much pressure outside of J.J. Watt's high motor should allow New England to concentrate their efforts on stopping the Wisconsin alum.
This, in theory and turn, would give Brady more time to let Lloyd's routes develop. Of course, it opens up more chances to feed him on Edelman-style routes if he adapts to the role.
A Week 15 clash with the San Francisco 49ers doesn't make Lloyd a must-play, but they've proven slightly vulnerable to capable aerial squads. New England's Week 16 contest versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, looks like an air-mail mauling waiting to happen.
Lloyd, luckily for his future, has been a forgotten man by most opposing defenses behind Welker, Hernandez and the RBs. Gronkowski returning could in fact help Lloyd see more man coverage, which he often beats.
Now that Brady has lost another minuteman, Lloyd and his coaching staff are basically forced to kiss and make up. McDaniels has had to alter his TE use coming to a team who's definied by the position, but he still has a place for Lloyd in his heart, and at the climax of this movie, it's time for him to show it.
This could be just the right steamy hook-up needed to give Lloyd's 2012 season a happy ending that involves your fantasy title, not sparkling vampires.
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About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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