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Player Spotlight: Anquan Boldin

A detailed look at Anquan Boldin's fantasy prospects for 2013

Setting the Stage

Anquan Boldin was a two-sport athlete playing basketball and football at Pahokee High School in Florida. He played quarterback and led his team to an undefeated 10-0 regular season as a Senior and was named Florida’s Mr. Football in 1998. He was a very highly regarded recruit who was listed among the top players nationally and elected to stay close to home and play collegiately at Florida State. He switched positions so that he could get on the field quicker and was one of only three freshmen to play. He played only three seasons, missing his entire junior year following a pre-season knee injury. He improved each year and caught 65 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 TDs in 2002, his final year.

Boldin lost some shine at the NFL Combine when he ran a slow 4.7 forty-yard dash. He was measured at a shade over 6-feet and 216 pounds and remained highly regarded even with the slow time, because of his athleticism and collegiate production. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round, with the 54th overall pick, as the 6th wide receiver. He has greatly exceeded expectations as he has the third most receptions among wide receivers since 2003 when he was drafted, with only Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson having more.

Boldin started out strong in the NFL when he set the record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his first game, at 217 yards.  He continued to have strong consistent production early in his career and set records as the fastest wide receiver in the NFL to post 400 receptions (67 games), 500 receptions (80 games) and 600 receptions (98 games). He currently ranks 23rd overall in receptions with 773 and will likely move into the top twenty during the 2013 season. Other highlights in his career include being named offensive rookie of the year in 2003, serving as Captain for the Arizona Cardinals and being selected to the Pro Bowl in three seasons. You often hear of defensive players with motors that never stop, and Anquan Boldin is an offensive player that fits into that mold.  

His career statistics are provided in the table below:

Year Team Gms Rushes Yards ypc TDs Targets Receptions Yards ypr TDs
2003

Arizona

16 5 40 8.0 0 165 101 1,377 13.6 8
2004

Arizona

10 1 3 3.0 0 102 56 623 11.1 1
2005

Arizona

14 12 45 3.8 0 171 102 1,402 13.7 7
2006

Arizona

16 5 28 5.6 0 152 83 1,203 14.5 4
2007

Arizona

12 1 14 14.0 0 99 71 853 12.0 9
2008

Arizona

12 9 67 7.4 0 126 89 1,038 11.7 11
2009

Arizona

15 2 7 3.5 0 128 85 1,029 12.1 5
2010 Baltimore 16 2 2 1.0 0 108 64 837 13.1 7
2011 Baltimore 14 0 0 0.0 0 122 57 887 15.6 3
2012 Baltimore 15 1 3 3.0 0 129 65 921 14.2 4
Totals   140 38 209 5.5 0 1,302 773 10,170 13.2 59

Looking Forward to 2013

Boldin enters the 2013 season on his third team, the San Francisco 49ers as he was traded prior to the draft for a sixth round pick. Boldin will turn 33 years old during this season and many have stated that his physical play has hastened the aging process and that he has possibly already lost a step. However, it should be pointed out that he has never depended on speed. It also seems that his playoff production last year seems to have been forgotten. Boldin caught 22 passes for 380 yards and 4 TDs in the Ravens four playoff games.

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to continue operating a balanced offense in 2013, which means they will pass the ball less than most teams. For the past two seasons under Coach Harbaugh, they have ranked 31st in passing attempts for each season. Their effectiveness did improve as they rose from 29th in passing yards in 2011 up to 23rd in 2012.

Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles tendon and will miss significant time in 2013. Even though Boldin is new to the team, he will be their primary wide receiver. Crabtree was by far the most targeted 49er, particularly after Colin Kaepernick took over as the starter, so it stands to reason that Boldin will be highly targeted.

Positives

  • Boldin will be the primary wide receiver for the 49ers while Michael Crabtree is out, which should be for most of the fantasy regular season
  • He will essentially be the replacement for Crabtree, who finished among the top fifteen WRs last season
  • He should be highly motivated in 2013 to prove he can continue to be productive

Negatives

  • San Francisco is one of the NFL’s teams most dependent on the running game
  • Boldin is new to the offense
  • The NFC West features very good defenses so their six in-conference games could be defensive battles

Projections

  Gms Rushes Yds ypc TDs Catches Yds ypc TDs
David Dodds 16 0 0 0.0 0 62 843 13.6 6
Bob Henry 15 0 0 0.0 0 62 870 14.0 6
Jason Wood 16 0 0 0.0 0 74 965 13.0 6
Maurile Tremblay 16 0 0

0.0

0 66 920 13.9 5
Stephen Holloway 16 3 18 6.0 0 80 1,056 13.2 6

Final Thoughts

The expectations seem very low for Boldin, based on his age and the team’s focus on the running game, but he really came alive in the 2012 playoffs and could provide production similar to what  Crabtree did a year ago. Even though the 49ers are run focused, Crabtree was targeted an average of 11 times per game once Kaepernick took over. Crabtree also caught 28 passes in the 2012 playoffs for 457 yards and 5 TDs. Boldin’s competitive nature will push for a primary role and he should reward his owners this year, particularly since he can be drafted late. His current ADP is WR38 and 93 overall.


Other Viewpoints

James Brady on SBNation http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2013/5/23/4357414/michael-crabtree-injury-49ers-anquan-boldin

He was expected to come in and be the No. 2 receiver behind Crabtree, but he'll definitely be in the driver's seat next season. Whether or not he can put up close to 1,000 yards again is anybody's guess, but Boldin has always been one of the toughest players in the NFL and continued production seems likely.

Mr.Non Sequitur in the Spotlight Thread  http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=682262#entry15617049

Boldin is not capable IMO of a top 10-12 season so the dreamers might want to have a reality check on this.  He was traded for a 6th round pick, he's 32 but has sustained a lot of big hits over the years.  Can he catch 60-75 balls and move the sticks?  Yes he can.  Can he put the Niners on his back at WR?  No he cannot and he has some limitations that owners need to be real about.  In dynasty this is the last chance you got to move this guy and actually get some value, cash in.  

SF is going to take a step back in the vertical passing game for now.  Boldin will make a lot of tough 8-10 yard receptions and do the dirty work but his days of gigantic production are well over.  He was hit and miss in Baltimore with a pretty strong QB throwing him the ball.  Defenses will also key in on him until the Niners show another receiver can hurt them.  Best thing for Boldin would be the emergence of a WR2 on this team like AJ Jenkins.  Manningham and another SF WR are coming off ACL tears and major surgery so there isn't a lot back there in reserves.  I expect SF to make at least a small move in obtaining another veteran WR, they can easily throw a draft pick out there for 2014 so they can win this year.

Jeff Pasquino in his player comments

The San Francisco 49ers need for someone to step up to fill the big hole left behind in the wake of the Crabtree injury. Odds are that both Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis will be the two names at the top of the list, both for need and also for targets this year from Colin Kaepernick. Boldin will leverage his veteran skills and savvy with this third NFL franchise to become the top wide receiver for a team in need of leadership and production


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