Brandon Lloyd likely won't lead the league in receiving as he did the last time he played under Josh McDaniels, but his fantasy stock should be as high as it has ever been throughout his career after signing with the New England Patriots.
Lloyd plays a vital role in the Patriots offense. He is the burner on the outside which the team has lacked since Randy Moss played with any real motivation. After playing in tough situations in both Denver and St. Louis last year, Lloyd could easily eclipse 1,000 yards playing in what is likely to be the best passing attack in the league next year. For that reason, his impact on the Patriots offense as a whole will be even greater.
The stock of each of Tom Brady, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker should rise even if it can't go much further up the scale. The Patriots offense is based on matchups. Last year, when Rob Gronkowski was double covered, Brady looked to Welker or Hernandez. If two of the three were doubled, Brady either checked down to his backs/audibled to a running play or found the third player.
With Brandon Lloyd's speed, defenses will no longer be able to double cover anyone.
Lloyd may not be an elite receiver, but he is too good, and too quick, to be left alone on the outside in single coverage. He will force defenses to play a lot more zone which should allow Wes Welker to prosper. If teams do only commit one player to Lloyd, he should put up good numbers. If they try to double team him, at least two of the other three receivers will be in single coverage and very few players can consistently cover any of those three.
The biggest fantasy winner in this situation is Tom Brady. Brady is currently my third ranked quarterback entering the season and a sure first round pick. Gronkowski is already my top rated tight end, while Aaron Hernandez could potentially suffer from losing some receptions to Lloyd, but I still think he will have a big year as the Patriots pass more.
With a new lease of life underneath, Wes Welker should be at the bottom of the elite class of receivers. I wouldn't take him ahead of Calvin Johnson, Andre, Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall, but in a PPR league he could be the best option available. Over 120 receptions is not an unrealistic expectation.
As for Lloyd himself, he won't be in the elite class of receivers, but he should be a reliable first choice starter to lead your fantasy team's receiving corp.