Over the last few weeks, we've been seeing more and more of what Brandon Lloyd can do, to the detriment of some of New England's other notable receivers.
On Sunday, we saw exactly what it is that makes Lloyd great. And unfortunately, his willingness to go all-out to make the big catch is exactly what hurt him last week in a 24-23 loss to the Seahawks. Literally.
At the moment, there's very little information regarding Lloyd's very mysterious injury that was caused when he drilled his shoulder into the ground while laying himself out on a reception attempt late in Sunday's game. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss described the course of events as such:
Receiver gets up slowly after making a catch late in the fourth quarter, but returns to game. He goes for tests afterward and walks out of the stadium stone-faced.
It's doubtful that we'll get much more information as the week progresses, as the Patriots are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to personnel injuries. We do know that the Patriots can ill afford to lose another receiver, given the fact that Julian Edelman is still limited, at best, and given the fact that Wes Welker took this hit against the Seahawks:
And finally, just before the quasi-injury struck, Lloyd finally seemed to be getting into a rhythm as a first-year member of the Patriots. Particularly against the Seahawks, when we saw him make quite a few spectacular grabs, it seemed like he could finally be the answer the Patriots wanted/needed him to be when they signed him in March.
His numbers are by no means stellar—he only has one touchdown and only one game in which he has registered 100-plus yards, and he averages 7.3 fantasy points—but he's starting to make the big plays the Patriots need him to make, especially given the fact that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski haven't been 100 percent.
And in a pivotal game against the Jets on Sunday, the Patriots need him more than ever.
The Patriots offense is going to be struggling on Sunday if Brandon Lloyd and Bolden are both hurt. Given the Jets' struggles against the run, New England needs Bolden—but it really, really needs Lloyd against the Jets' secondary. It needs a big-play wide receiver who can compete with the fifth-ranked pass defense in the league.
If Lloyd plays on Sunday, he's probably going to be limited. He probably isn't going to explode against one of the better pass defenses the Patriots have come across this year. This probably isn't the week in which he goes off for 100-plus yards and a couple of touchdowns. The Jets are not the kind of team a receiver makes a statement against, even now, given their abundant injuries.
But the Patriots need him. Your fantasy team probably did, too. Alas, the matchup isn't on Lloyd's side—injured or not.
Projection: Four receptions, 40 yards, 0 TDs