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Fallout: Lloyd is a Ram

Monday, October 17, 2011

It’s been a strange season. First, the lockout. Then, a rash of early-season hamstring injuries that turned the fantasy world on its head. And now -- gasp -- a high-impact trade at the deadline.

The Broncos sent Brandon Lloyd to the Rams Monday in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2012. Here’s the fallout for all the affected parties:

Brandon Lloyd - Major upgrade
In Denver, Lloyd was just a talented guy in coach John Fox’s run-first, ball control scheme. He was averaging 4.7 catches for 70.7 yards with no touchdowns. And to make matters worse, Tim Tebow’s inaccuracy was going to put a damper on his expected production even further.

Now in St. Louis, Lloyd’s arrow is pointing way up. He is reunited with ex-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who is now the offensive coordinator in St. Louis. He’ll immediately be able to step in as the No. 1 receiver in a scheme that emphasizes the pass. And his new quarterback is among the most accurate passers in the game. Lloyd is back on the fantasy radar as a WR2 with upside.

Eric Decker - Major upgrade
Meet your new No. 1 receiver in Denver. Although Tim Tebow’s potential struggles as a passer are a red flag, Decker has the physical, possession-receiver style an inaccurate quarterback can work with. Decker has also proven to be a physical beast after the catch. As an every-down player the rest of the way, owners can safely pencil Decker in as a weekly WR3.

Tim Tebow - Slight downgrade
Brandon Lloyd makes the absurd catch appear routine, so Tebow is certainly going to miss him. However, we haven’t pegged Tebow as a fantasy monster because of his arm. He will be eased in with screens and quick slants while he uses his legs to make plays. Tebow will serve as the goal-line back and will rush 10-plus times per game. That’s not going to change with Lloyd gone.

Sam Bradford - Upgrade
The wideout play in St. Louis has been downright embarrassing this season. Free agent acquisition Mike Sims-Walker flopped so bad that he was a healthy scratch Sunday. Rookies Greg Salas and Austin Pettis have both struggled badly with drops and inconsistency. Bradford’s favorite target, Danny Amendola, is done for the year with an elbow injury. With Lloyd in town as a legit No. 1 receiver and big-play threat that knows the system, Bradford is a strong bet to post vastly improved numbers going forward.

Eddie Royal/Demaryius Thomas - Wait and see
Both Royal and Thomas are healthy now. They’ll compete to start opposite Eric Decker, with Royal the early favorite thanks to his experience and status as the veteran. However, neither one is a good bet for production with Tim Tebow under center and John Fox leaning on the run. If making a speculative add, Thomas is the one to target as the vastly surperior talent. 

Danario Alexander/Brandon Gibson/Greg Salas - Hold steady
It’s clear that Alexander is the superior talent to Gibson, but the age-old question is the health of his knees. If Alexander can nail down the starting job opposite Lloyd, he’ll be a serious upside play. We’ve seen the kind of difference-making skills DX has. Look for a rotation between the two for now, but Alexander has looked healthy enough to play all the snaps lately.

Gibson, meanwhile, was averaging just 3.4 catches for 42.8 yards as an every-down player. He shouldn’t have been on your team before and certainly shouldn’t be now. … Mike Sims-Walker will likely be released to make room for Lloyd. Drop him. … Greg Salas has the hot hand in the slot right now, a position that won’t be filled by Lloyd or Alexander. He’ll lose a couple targets, but is on the extreme deep-league PPR radar.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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