3 Free Agent Signings Who Did Not Pan out for Fantasy Football Owners

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2013

Lloyd went from being a No. 1 option to a No. 3 or No. 4 in New England
Lloyd went from being a No. 1 option to a No. 3 or No. 4 in New EnglandRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2012 NFL regular season is over and so are millions of fantasy football leagues, fantasy owners who did not win any championships or money can start pinning blame on the players who cost them their titles and prizes. 

2012 was a busy year for free agents. Many superstars banked big bucks during the offseason and joined new teams that provided new roles and opportunities to put up better numbers. 

Vincent Jackson signed for multi-millions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had the best year of his solid career with 72 receptions for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a career-high 1,094 yards despite leaving New England’s high-powered offense for a more conservative system in Cincinnati. And it certainly seems that Peyton Manning made the right call by picking the Denver Broncos over countless suitors. 

But not every free agent prospered in his new digs. While changing teams is normally a boost to a player’s fantasy value, that unwritten fantasy rule did not always apply in 2012. 

So here are three players who signed with new teams before the 2012 season and were expected to have good-to-great years but did not exactly pan out for fantasy owners.  

Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots (WR)

Lloyd was destined for a monster year as soon as he signed with New England. He was re-teaming with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who helped revitalize Lloyd’s floundering career in Denver when Lloyd went from a journeyman receiver to a 1,448-yard superstar. And he was going to have Tom Brady throwing him the ball instead of past QBs like Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton and Sam Bradford.  

But Lloyd never seemed to get in sync with Brady or the Patriots’ vaunted offense. His numbers in the end were okay—74 receptions for 911 yards and four touchdowns—but were not as good as they had been the two years prior when he was with lower-quality teams with lesser-talented quarterbacks.

When tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm midway through the season, that should have been when Lloyd turned things around and stepped up his production. Instead, he had a six-game period where he did not break the 50-yard barrier in any contest. 

Lloyd will be 32 years old coming into the 2013 season, so another 1,400-yard year at this point is unlikely. He has no carryover appeal in keeper leagues but can be kept in dynasty leagues since he should be in the 800-1,000-yard range next year, provided he remains with New England.    

Brandon Jacobs, San Francisco 49ers (RB)

Jacobs signing with San Francisco was a head-scratcher from the start since the 49ers already had Frank Gore entrenched as their top tailback and also had shifty Kendall Hunter as the backup. So even if Jacobs was healthy and happy he might have been relegated to only five touches per game.

Turned out Jacobs was not healthy or happy and only touched the ball five times all season.

Jacobs missed the first several weeks with a knee injury, and by the time he was injury-free San Francisco needed him about as much as a vegetarian needs a hot dog. He got into two games, had five rushes for seven yards and was never heard from again until he mouthed off and got suspended by the 49ers. Then he was released the day after the season ended. 

Fantasy owners in touchdown leagues or real deep leagues that thought Jacobs could have barreled his way to some scores in San Francisco were sadly mistaken. Jacobs’ fantasy value heading into the 2013 campaign is in the negatives.   

Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (WR)

Robinson was a breakout fantasy star in 2011 when he somehow scored 11 touchdowns from Dallas’ No. 3 wideout position. After scoring just four touchdowns over his first four seasons, Robinson kept finding the end zone as often as Rex Ryan finds the back page of New York newspapers.  

So Robinson inked a $32.5 million dollar deal with receiver-starved Jacksonville and was primed to form an intriguing one-two punch with rookie Justin Blackmon on the outside, although some fantasy experts like yours truly thought this was investment was as foolish as investing in eight-track tapes.    

Robinson finished 2012 with 24 receptions, 252 yards, zero touchdowns—and four concussions. I think it is safe to say that Robinson’s TD-to-concussion ratio was worse than any player’s in the NFL, and the concussions limited him to just seven games.

But even in the games he appeared in Robinson was virtually invisible. He was lapped on the depth chart by Cecil Shorts and was a total fantasy non-factor. So blame the head injuries if you want for his lack of production, but even when he was clear-headed his value was zip.   

The jury is now out on whether Robinson was a one-year wonder and a multi-million dollar blunder or whether he was a victim of a combination of concussions and inaccurate quarterbacks. But for fantasy owners who drafted Robinson thinking he could post another double-digit TD year, they were more disappointed than Denver Broncos fans were this past weekend.