Malcom Floyd is entering his seventh NFL season, but this will be the first year in which he enters training camp as a starting wide receiver.
Floyd was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers in 2004. He's spent the past six years with the team, working hard and fighting for the opportunity that now stands before him.
Floyd barely accumulated any statistics during his first four years. He tallied just 25 receptions and four touchdowns over that span. Floyd spent his first two seasons mainly on the practice squad, and then saw sporadic action in 2006 and 2007.
Floyd began to emerge as a legitimate NFL receiver in 2008, and found a place on many analyst's fantasy radars.
He showed off his good speed to go along with a big 6’5" and 225 pound frame. Floyd exhibited tremendous athleticism, and glimpses of big-play ability, by hauling in some deep passes.
In one drive, Malcolm caught five balls for 67 yards, which culminated with Floyd's four yard touchdown reception.
Although this injury caused Floyd to be hospitalized following the game, and resulted in him missing the remainder of the season (including two playoff games), the receiver's NFL career took a big leap forward.
Floyd exhibited extraordinary toughness to go along with his talent.
In 2009, Floyd was stuck as the team’s number three receiver until the Chargers released receiver Chris Chambers after week eight.
At that point, Floyd immediately took over the starting receiver position opposite Vincent Jackson and finished the season with career bests in receptions (45) and receiving yards (776), while scoring one touchdown.
When Floyd took over as starting receiver, he became one of that week's hottest waiver wire pickups in fantasy leagues. Many fantasy owners were expecting a major spike in production, and some considered Floyd a player that could immediately be inserted into their starting lineup.
While there was indeed an improvement in his weekly targets and receptions, Floyd did not live up to the generated fantasy hype. To illustrate the point, his average weekly targets, receptions, and yards are broken down below, which displays before and after he became a Chargers’ starting receiver.
Weeks 1-8: 2.9 targets, 1.6 receptions, 35.9 yards.
Weeks 9-17: 6.2 targets, 3.8 receptions, 58.3 yards.
While his statistics definitely increased, Floyd's production was not enough to qualify him as a starting fantasy wide receiver. San Diego has several explosive play-makers on the team, and Floyd is the third option in the passing game behind Vincent Jackson and tight end Antonio Gates.
Add in the fact that the Chargers like to utilize speedy running back Darren Sproles in the passing game and also involve the promising receiver Legedu Naanee on passing downs, there are rarely enough opportunities for Floyd to post huge numbers.
His lack of production in the red zone was perhaps the biggest disappointment to fantasy owners.
Despite having 11 red zone targets, Floyd scored just one touchdown. It's reasonable to expect a better conversion rate in 2010. But Floyd still remains relatively low on the pecking order for red zone looks (three of his 11 targets were in week 17 with Jackson sidelined).
It’s also not a good sign when Floyd admits to his touchdown struggles. Floyd was quoted by the North County Times as saying “ I think there's something between the end zone and me…I just can't find it, even today. It's the strangest thing”.
With the exception of rookie Ryan Mathews taking over the departed LaDanian Tomlinson as the team's starting running back, the Chargers’ offense heads into 2010 with the same skill players intact. And the same offensive philosophy.
Look for Jackson and Gates to continue getting the lion’s share of the passing targets between the 20’s, as well as in the red zone.
From a purely football perspective, Floyd will play a vital role for the Chargers. He has incredible ability to stretch the field and make acrobatic catches downfield. Opposing defenses will have to account for him, which takes some pressure off Jackson and Gates, as well as the running game.
For fantasy purposes, however, Floyd will not get the sufficient looks to be anything more than a backup at the position, and should be considered in the neighborhood of a WR4.
There is a situation to monitor, however, which could make Floyd a useful early season fantasy candidate.
Vincent Jackson is facing a possible league suspension for being caught driving with a suspended license in January of this year.
Since this follows previous DUI arrests, he may miss up to four games if the league office hands down a suspension.
Consider that in Week 17 of last season, when Jackson sat out because of an Achilles tendon injury, Floyd had a career game. He caught nine balls for 140 yards on 14 targets.
So if Jackson misses time early in the season, Floyd could be a viable starting fantasy receiver for those weeks. It is wise to exercise caution here and not spend a high draft pick on Floyd just based on the first few weeks of the season. But he may be worth grabbing in the later rounds, a tad sooner than if Jackson avoids a suspension.
Floyd’s long-term fantasy outlook depends on whether he remains in San Diego beyond 2010.
He is currently a restricted free agent, and is expected to sign his one year tender offer for this season. If he does eventually sign a long-term deal with the Chargers, his fantasy potential for the next several years will not improve much.
The best bet for him to become a viable starting fantasy wide receiver would be for Floyd to move to another team in 2011 that is in need of a big, fast, and athletic receiver.
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