Fanball wrote:Player Spotlight: Brandon Lloyd
By Jason Powell, Associate Editor
September 3, 2004 5:00 AM ET
Kevan Barlow may be the only proven commodity among the 49ers' skill players, but he's not the only Niner that fantasy owners should want to have on their rosters.
Brandon Lloyd is a solid deep sleeper in all scoring formats.
After the 49ers lost starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, running back Garrison Hearst, and wide receivers Terrell Owens and Tai Streets during the offseason, about the only thing thing fantasy owners knew for sure about the team's offense was that Kevan Barlow would open the season as the starting running back.
It was assumed that Tim Rattay would be the starting quarterback, but then he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him during most of the offseason workouts and for the first week of training camp. Just about the time Rattay was scheduled to return to full contact practice, he strained his forearm and was sidelined for another two weeks, leaving fantasy owners to question whether he would still be in one piece on opening day.
The receiving corps was equally unpredictable. Brandon Lloyd showed promise in spot duty last year despite hauling in only 14 receptions. Cedrick Wilson had 35 grabs, but he is still best remembered for failing to run out of bounds while the clock was running down. And rookie Rashaun Woods is even less proven than the Niners' other young receivers.
Aside from Barlow, fantasy owners are probably asking themselves if there is any Niner they should consider adding to their roster either on draft day or as free agency pickups. Some owners will take a chance on Woods simply because he's a first-round pick, while others will lean toward Curtis Conway because of his veteran experience. But at this point, Lloyd is more likely to breakout than any other Niner wideout.
When Woods signed his contract, he was handed Terrell Owens' jersey number and a starting job. He's kept the jersey, but didn't get it very dirty while nursing a pair of hamstring injuries that sidelined him during training camp and caused him to miss two preseason games. Woods returned for the third preseason game against the Vikings, but had already been demoted to second team.
Even when Niners' head coach Dennis Erickson was planning to use Woods as a starting receiver, he pegged Lloyd as the other starter. And while the question of who will play the No. 2 role remains a bigger mystery than why it takes two years to shoot a dozen episodes of "The Sopranos," Lloyd is clearly the top gun in Frisco.
Lloyd has had a quiet preseason thus far. In fact, he's only caught three passes for 20 yards and a touchdown. But it was that one touchdown catch against the Bears that served a shining example of what make makes Lloyd so special.
This wasn't just a routine touchdown grab, Lloyd made an amazing circus catch that would make retired wideout Cris Carter smile. And that catch was no fluke. Lloyd showed his ability to make seemingly impossible grabs last year and all throughout practice.
Don't think for a second that any of this is lost on Rattay and backup signal caller Ken Dorsey. Lloyd has earned the trust of both quarterbacks, and he's the wideout they will look for in key situations, particularly in the red zone. And if either signal caller finds himself being closely pursued by an opposing defensive lineman, he won't think twice about heaving up a prayer in Brandon's direction.
Don't let Lloyd's inexperience stand in the way of selecting him as a deep sleeper on draft day. He spent his pre-NFL days learning from Rams' receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, and then picked up what he could from the enigmatic Owens last season. He also developed chemistry with Tim Rattay while both were members of the second-team offense last year.
Brandon is currently listed as a top-45 receiver in our rankings, yet I would argue that he has more upside than some of the wideouts ranked just above him.
Unlike Cardinals' receiver Anquan Boldin, Lloyd has a chance to play in all 16 games this season. Brandon doesn't have a list of injuries longer than the legs of Maria Sharapova, as Vikings' wideout Marcus Robinson does. He might actually score more than three touchdowns, which is something no one can say with any confidence about Keyshawn Johnson. And Lloyd is sure to be a regular in his team's starting lineup, which is can't be said about Andre' Davis or any other Browns' receiver.
The Niners' offense is bound to struggle at times as the young skill players experience growing pains, but don't let that discourage you from selecting Lloyd. He's a playmaker and a nice receiver to have on your bench for plug-in and emergency situations. The risk of drafting him late is minimal, and his upside potential is strong, particularly in keeper leagues.
To add to this, last night Lloyd recorded 5 catches for 91 yards and a TD in limited action.