Player Round Table (Anquan Boldin)
By FBG Staff; Hosted by Maurile Tremblay
August 9th, 2010

Here at Footballguys.com, we have Spotlights and Faceoffs. Those features are fairly comprehensive, but they are limited to viewpoints from either one or two writers. Well some players need a little more commentary. We have decided open up the dialog and asked our staff to leave their thoughts on these players and what is expected from them in 2010. Here, discussion centers around WR Anquan Boldin.

Andy Hicks: ADP13 is too high a price to pay for a player in Anquan Boldin's situation.

I am generally wary of spending a high draft pick on a guy who is on a new team, has a new offensive coordinator, or has a new quarterback throwing him the ball. Boldin has all three.

Boldin has also missed playing time in all but two seasons in his career so far, and hasn't managed a full year since 2006. He will be at an age where his style of play will make it harder and harder to recover from his injuries. I don't doubt Boldin's toughness, but he's an underdog to make it through the whole season without injury.

In addition, Boldin's touchdown production has been sporadic. To live up to his draft position, he's going to have to approach double-digit TDs - but I have little faith that he will do so with the Ravens. Joe Flacco isn't Kurt Warner, and I think we'll have to wait a season before the Flacco-to-Boldin connection hits its stride.

Will Grant: I share Andy's skepticism, for a few reasons.

First, Arizona threw for 4,200 yards last season, while Baltimore threw for just 3,600. That's a big difference - one that is going to make it very difficult for Boldin to match his past production.

Second, Boldin is the new kid on the block in Baltimore. As Andy pointed out, Boldin is in a new offense with a new QB. He needs time to develop chemistry with Flacco. Flacco already has a feel for where Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason will be when the offensive line breaks down and the receivers have to break off their routes. It will take time for him to develop similar comfort with Boldin.

Finally, the Baltimore offense starts with Ray Rice. He had more than 325 touches last season and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. He had more receptions than any WR or TE on the team. Of the 315 completions that Flacco threw last season, 25% of them were to Ray Rice.

Boldin's current ADP is not only higher than his most likely fantasy finish - it is higher than his reasonable ceiling.

Mark Wimer: Will is concerned about the Ravens' offense and Anquan Boldin's role in it, but I'm more optimistic.

Flacco enters his third NFL season as a rising NFL star, sporting an offense that has been re-stocked with talented targets during the offseason. This bodes well for the Ravens and their new weapons. Flacco completed almost two-thirds of his passes last year.

It is true that the Ravens haven't passed the ball nearly as much as the Cardinals (Boldin's old team) in recent years, but I would respond to that observation by pointing out that (1) Joe Flacco has been developing from raw rookie to seasoned veteran over the past two years; (2) the Ravens aggressively reworked their wide receiver and tight depth charts for 2010; and (3) Flacco is expected to take a much higher-profile leadership role in the offense this year now that he is a seasoned NFL veteran.

While Joe Flacco may never put up the ball 594 times (as Kurt Warner did last season in Arizona), I wouldn't be surprised to see Flacco throw the ball well in excess of 500 times this year. During 2009, Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington each caught only 34 passes from Flacco to tie for #2 among wide receivers on the team. I do not expect to see similarly unimpressive numbers from the trio of Boldin, Mason and Stallworth.

Part of the reason that Ray Rice saw so many passes last year was because the WR corps was so undistinguished.

Boldin should step into the #1 wide receiver role on the team with authority, in my opinion. Moreover, the presence of other talented skill-position players will keep opposing defenses from blanketing him.

Regarding his injury woes from years past, it's not like Boldin could have avoided being sandwiched by DBs in 2008, breaking his face - and he returned to play literally a month earlier than the doctors predicted after they put in multiple plates and many screws to hold his skull together. He does occasionally struggle with knee and ankle pain, but he's proven again and again that he'll fight through pain to play on Sundays. Boldin has a warrior mentality that keeps him in the game whenever he is physically able.

The Ravens intend to use Boldin similarly to the way in which the Cardinals did, getting him the ball so that he can run after the catch. In my opinion, Boldin should easily snag 90 receptions during 2010, with 100+ well within the realm of possibility. I think he's perhaps the best fantasy wide receiver among those who relocated into new surroundings this season. I'll be happy to add Boldin to my redraft fantasy teams this year as the #1 wide receiver.

Andy Hicks: As much as Mark wants to suggest that Flacco is a seasoned veteran, the fact is that Baltimore will have a run-based offense with three talented and productive RBs. With their solid defense, the Ravens do not need Flacco to air it out. Maybe they will in the future, but for now I can't see more than 520 passing attempts.

Forty-five percent of Flacco's passes went to the running backs and the tight ends last season. Ray Rice and Todd Heap will still be featured prominently in the offense. With Derrick Mason, Donte Stallworth, and Mark Clayton also in the mix, Boldin's targets have to max out at 110-120. I don't see any way Boldin will get the 90-100 receptions Mark mentioned.

Sigmund Bloom: Boldin's has a WR1 reputation from his productive seasons in the desert, but staying at that level is far from a given entering a much less pass-happy offense with a young QB. The risk factors of a change in team, a drop in the quality of situation, and an ugly injury history are all too strong to expect Boldin to finish in the top 20, much less the top 15. I also have a feeling that when the bullets are flying, Flacco will look back to Derrick Mason, a player that has been there for him for the entirety of Flacco's young career, and one that has proven that he is on the same page with Flacco when it comes to timing and adjusting to his fireball throws. Let someone else think they're stealing the Arizona Boldin when they're actually reaching for the Baltimore Boldin.

Jeff Pasquino: Boldin will be the WR1 for Baltimore, but his ADP of WR13 is just way too high for me. I think he can come close to matching his numbers from last season since he will be the top target in Baltimore, but that does not mean he will be a fantasy WR1 or close.

Joe Flacco puts up respectable numbers as a passer but the Ravens are still a run-first, run-second, play-strong-defense-third team. With Pittsburgh's offseason struggles and a reasonable schedule this year, there is no reason to expect Flacco to put up big passing numbers. That ripples down to the wideouts who will be solid but not super-productive, which makes Boldin more of a fantasy WR3 with upside.

Will Grant: Flacco being or not being a seasoned veteran isn't so much the issue for me. It's the fact that Boldin's ADP of WR13 is still based off of his performance in Arizona and you're not comparing apples to apples anymore.

Arizona's WRs had 272 receptions for 3,233 yards and 22 TDs last season. Baltimore's had 149 receptions for 2,081 yards and 12 TDs.

Baltimore simply doesn't throw the ball as much as Arizona does, especially to the WRs. I don't see Baltimore radically altering their offensive scheme simply because Boldin is the best WR on the team.

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