Lloyd, Decker look to be big fantasy winners from NFL trade deadline
Brandon Lloyd caught 77 passes for 1,448 yards last year with Josh McDaniels
Carson Palmer may be worth gamble but is risky addition after trade to Raiders
DeMarco Murray appears as if he'll get bulk of Dallas carries with Felix Jones out
First, the Broncos benched their starting quarterback for Tim Tebow. Now they trade their top wide receiver. Denver may have given up on the season this year, but the trade of Brandon Lloyd to the Rams has lots of fantasy implications, and at least one Denver wideout should be on the waiver wire ready to contribute to your team.
Lloyd reunites in St. Louis with former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, now the offensive coordinator for the Rams. Last season with McDaniels, Lloyd had 77 catches for 1,448 yards (which led the league) and 11 touchdowns in Denver. It should be a smoother transition than usual for Lloyd since he already knows the offense. He's in the last year of his deal and should be motivated.
No one on the Rams has been a reliable fantasy player this year, and now quarterback Sam Bradford is in a walking cast. With Lloyd on the team, the Rams top two wideouts this year -- Danario Alexander (33 targets, 14 catches, 287 yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Gibson (31 targets, 17 catches, 214 yards, 1 TD) -- take hits, especially with Bradford suffering a high ankle sprain on Sunday. Alexander and Gibson were only being used in big leagues anyway; Alexander is the one with more upside if you're going to stash someone. (Mike Sims-Walker, signed in the offseason by St. Louis, was cut to make room for Lloyd.)
The Broncos have more intriguing options on the waiver wire. Eric Decker, owned in 77 percent of leagues, is now Denver's No. 1. He was already the Broncos' leader in targets (42) and receptions (22) and should obviously be picked up if he happens to be available in your league. He's probably gone if you're in a league that pays attention, though.
Demaryius Thomas, though, is probably available (he's owned in just 2 percent of Yahoo! leagues) and has tremendous upside. (Eddie Royal, owned in 3 percent of leagues, is a fallback option for the desperate, though reports are he may he traded, too.) Thomas' rookie season was slowed down by injuries, but last year's first-round pick is slated to return this week and should eventually be the No. 2 behind Decker. If he stays healthy, that is: He's coming off Achilles surgery in February and finger surgery last month.
Carson Palmer, Raiders (0 percent): Reports are the Raiders have worked a deal for the former Bengals starting QB for a first round pick in 2012 and a conditional first rounder in '13. This is a big gamble, but Palmer threw 26 touchdown passes even in his lost season in Cincinnati last year. In a pinch, he could fill in, but temper your expectations.
Tim Tebow, Broncos (47 percent): The Broncos got rid of their top receiver, but it's a sign Tebow is likely the starter for the rest of the season. He put up good fantasy numbers last year and could do so again. It's a gamble, but it's a pretty good one for a quarterback this far into the season.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (12 percent): When Felix Jones went down on Sunday, Murray received the majority of the carries, not Tashard Choice (7 percent). With Jones suffering a high-ankle sprain and possibly out a while, Murray should get plenty of touches. The Cowboys play the winless Rams on Sunday, making Murray an attractive play for at least this week.
Montario Hardesty, Browns (18 percent): The Madden curse continues! Peyton Hillis tweaked his hamstring Sunday and continued his disappointing fantasy season. Hardesty didn't do much -- 11 carries for 35 yards -- in relief, but the Browns trailed and were mostly throwing. Seattle's rush defense is good, so don't expect too much this week, but if you're looking to take a flier on a guy, this isn't a bad bet.
Jackie Battle, Chiefs (37 percent): He had a breakout performance before the bye week, with 119 yards on 19 carries. The Chiefs have decent matchups in the ground game in the coming weeks (Oakland, San Diego and Miami) and Battle might be gone sooner rather than later in your league.
Earnest Graham, Buccaneers (54 percent): Graham looked good on Sunday in place of LeGarrette Blount, rushing 17 times for 109 yards in Sunday's win over the Saints. Graham will start on Sunday against the Bears in London before the bye. Blount's likely to be back by then, so Graham is probably a one-week option.
Devin Hester, Bears (31 percent): He's probably still too much of a hit-or-miss to be an every week starter, but when he has a good matchup he could have a big game (5 catches on 7 targets, 91 yards, 1 TD against the Vikings). He's second to Matt Forte on the team in targets and faces a weak Tampa Bay defense this week before the bye.
Greg Little, Browns (16 percent): The rookie wideout is in the starting lineup and was targeted a team-high 12 times on Sunday against the Raiders. He caught 6 passes for 72 yards. The Browns have a good matchup with Seattle's shaky defense coming this week.
Early Doucet, Cardinals (23 percent): Ostensibly the Cardinals' No. 3 receiver, Doucet has far more targets than No. 2 option Andre Roberts (38-23) and has gotten into the end zone, too. The matchup against the Steelers this week is not great, but he could still put up bye-week filler numbers.
Jake Ballard, Giants (11 percenrt): The Giants' tight end caught all five of Eli Manning's passes thrown his way on Sunday, picking up 81 yards even though New York ran the ball 31 times. The five catches were a career high and two more than he caught in any college game, Ballard said. Manning seems to be trusting him more each week, and he's a good pickup even with the Giants on bye, especially with back-to-back attractive matchups (Miami, New England) coming up after it.
Fred Davis, Redskins (44 percent): The Redskins' top tight end will get even more looks now that Chris Cooley has a broken finger. He's still available in a majority of leagues and could be an option as a starter for the rest of the year.
Dan Bailey, Cowboys (37 percent): Bailey has scored double-digit fantasy points (in standard formats) in four straight weeks. The Cowboys' offense has been moving the ball all year, giving him plenty of opportunities. He's available in most leagues and can start at kicker every week; the Cowboys have already had their bye. His overall numbers are helped by his six-field goal day in Week 3, but he should still be a reliable fantasy starter.
Billy Cundiff, Ravens (33 percent): This is another guy helped by one big day -- five field goals on Sunday against Houston -- but he's 14-of-16 on the year and the Ravens have already had their bye.
Washington (32 percent): Washington didn't allow any points to Michael Vick and the Eagles in the second half and turned in an OK fantasy day, picking off two Eagles passes. The Redskins should get more chances this week, against turnover-prone Cam Newton and Carolina. They're more than adequate bye-week filler.