It happens every single year right about this time. People contact me via Email or through our forum and ask me one seemingly easy question – who is the toughest person to rank this year?
Typically, that’s a very tough question to answer. Last year, Reggie Bush was a bit of a challenge with his move to Miami and we really went out on a limb by downgrading some players like Peyton Hillis. All in all, 2011 was a pretty easy year to rank players.
This season is very different and like many of the past decade, tough yet again on an overall basis. Simply put, there are a number of individual players who are very difficult to rank right now. That list includes players like James Starks, Matt Flynn, Victor Cruz, Marshawn Lynch and a host of others. While the draft and free agency will help make ranking some of these players a little easier, it’s still a challenge at this point in time for a variety of reasons, including impending free agency for some, contract situations for others or what could be fluky 2011 performances for an even larger group of players.
If I’m choosing just one player as the toughest to rank, the answer to that question is simple, though – that player is none other than Brandon Lloyd. Those who have read DLF since its infancy know our complete and total disdain for the man. It’s nothing personal, but let’s just say that Brandon Lloyd burned one of DLF’s owners pretty badly for more than a few seasons. It’s kind of the stuff of legend around these parts.
There are virtually no certainties regarding Lloyd, save one. If you’re a rebuilding team, you want no part of him. Let’s face it, in dynasty leagues you need to be squarely in contention or rebuilding – there is no in-between. If you don’t know which category your team falls in, you need to determine that in order to maximize your potential. Otherwise, a bevy of 8-8 seasons are in your future. So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the case to buy or sell on Brandon Lloyd if you’re an owner of a team squarely in contention for a title in the next 2-3 seasons.
The Case to Sell
Lloyd will turn 31 in July, so his best years have to be behind him. Sorry, but that’s just math. That being said, he really has only one good year on the books. In his nine year career, Lloyd has 311 catches for 4,784 yards and 31 touchdowns – good for an average of just 35 catches, 532 yards and 3.4 touchdowns per season. Even more disheartening is the fact that Lloyd posted 77 catches, 1,448 yards and 11 of those scores in one year with the Broncos.
Lloyd is a free agent and has expressed interest in staying in St. Louis, or possibly following Josh McDaniels to New England. It’s very hard to say where he’ll end up because those situations tend to surprise in the end. We do know that he’s never been one to stay healthy and has constantly showed both flashes of both greatness and supreme disappointment for his owners during his stops in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Denver and St. Louis. That doesn’t just go away overnight – it’s called a trend.
Simply put, the list of players who blossom after nine seasons is short. The list of players who keep up that level of production is empty. That in itself can be enough to tip the scales for someone to sell on Lloyd. After all, we’ve all seen our share of one hit wonders in fantasy.
The Case to Buy
It’s accurate to say that Lloyd has been mostly a disappointment during his career. However, completely dismissing his recent production would be a mistake. In his last 31 games (making up nearly two full seasons), Lloyd has posted 147 catches, 2,414 yards and 16 touchdowns. When you consider many of those games came with quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, AJ Feeley and a banged up Sam Bradford at the helm, that’s impressive.
In the investment world, they always say that past performance isn’t an indicator of future success. With Lloyd, the same can be said about his early career failures – you can’t just hold that against him forever.
If he was to re-sign with St. Louis, Bradford will be healthy again next year and he’d surely be a key player for the Rams next season. He’s been good since arriving there from Denver and has only missed one game in the past two seasons. The Rams have virtually no weapons on the outside (though Blackmon could be a draft option) and Lloyd would get a ton of targets, even in Jeff Fisher’s run heavy offense.
Lloyd himself has also said that New England would be of great interest. The Pats have a history of taking on veteran players with mixed success, so you could see them take a stab at Lloyd. While the Patriot offense seems to be quite content relying on their Tight Ends, you could also make a case they have to with the lack of talent on the outside. Remember, Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns the last time Josh McDaniels was his coordinator.
You can make a strong case to buy on Lloyd if you’re a contending team. He likely won’t cost that much to get and you could conceivably strike gold. If you strike out, the price tag likely wasn’t high.
Brandon Lloyd is easily the toughest player to rank for the upcoming season. Right now, we have him in the 30s, but it’s not inconceivable to see him finish in the top 10 or outside the top 50 next year. Free agency will be a key in determining his future value, but that may be too late for you to make a move. If you believe Lloyd is a “sell” candidate, you play up the New England possibility and get what you can for him now. If you believe he’s a “buy” candidate, you better go acquire him before it’s too late.
I’d pose a question right back to you – how strongly do you feel one way or another?
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK