Boldin's trade doesn't up his value much
Given his salary demands and injury history, a third-round pick always seemed about right for Anquan Boldin, and the Baltimore Ravens ponied up, acquiring Boldin on Friday, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
So Boldin, long rumored to be upset with his contract situation as an Arizona Cardinal, will move to the AFC North to be Joe Flacco's No. 1 receiver. The nitty gritty: The Cardinals get Baltimore's third- and fourth-rounders in April's draft in exchange for Boldin and Arizona's fifth-rounder.
What does this do to Boldin's fantasy value? Well, on the one hand, he's now the favorite to lead his team in receptions; he's an undisputed No. 1 receiver, out from under the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald. But on the other hand, he leaves the Cardinals' high-flying passing attack for a squad that prefers to run. How stark was the contrast between these teams in 2009? On average, Arizona threw it 37 times per game for 262.5 yards, while Baltimore threw it 32 times per game for 227.3 yards. In terms of play calling, that translated to a 1.62 pass-play-to-run-play ratio for the Cardinals, second-highest in the league behind only the Colts, and a 1.09 ratio for the Ravens, eighth-lowest in the league. While it's not outside the realm of possibility that as Flacco matures and Boldin comes on board, the Ravens could throw more, I feel safe in saying Baltimore will have a more run-heavy attack in '10 than Boldin is used to.
Also realize that Boldin is nobody's idea of a deep threat. He's a strong route-runner and a very tough player, but he's not suddenly going to assume Fitzgerald's all-around upside now that he's elsewhere. He'll get a ton of looks, but not that many of them will be bombs. Now this is a receiver who's really good in the red zone. He might have caught only four touchdown passes in '09, but he scored 20 in '07 and '08 combined, and 16 of those came from in the opponent's red zone. (Whether or not he'll steal those red zone scores from runners such as Ray Rice or Willis McGahee is an interesting question, but I'm not going to downgrade Rice on this news.) I can't view Boldin as a No. 1 fantasy receiver in a 10-team league, but I can easily see slotting him in the 15 to 20 area. Remember also that Boldin has missed time in each of the past three seasons because of injury.
Does Flacco see a significant bump? I don't think so. Before this signing, I had Flacco rated No. 14 among quarterbacks, and I still think that's the correct neighborhood for him. Yes, he played hurt in the second half last season, and yes, he made the most out of a thin receiving corps when he was healthy, scoring double-digit fantasy points in six of the Ravens' first seven games. The fact remains, though, that he finished 18th in fantasy points among signal-callers for the season, and there are an awful lot of good quarterbacks in the league. Could I see maybe bumping Flacco above Jay Cutler, whom I currently have a couple of spots higher? Maybe. But I find it tough to believe I could justify Flacco in the top 10. Also, this move does leave Derrick Mason's future in question. With Donte' Stallworth also recently signed by the Ravens, Mason might be moving on.
Finally, there's what's left in Arizona. Fitzgerald already sees near-constant double-teams, so I don't anticipate that the Boldin trade changes his value. His biggest variable is whether Matt Leinart (or a veteran that the Cardinals sign to compete with Leinart) can get him the ball. But Steve Breaston and Early Doucet figure to get a crack at Boldin's No. 2 receiving spot. Breaston's is the name you know after he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in '08, but Doucet seemed ready to break out after two big playoff games this January. For the moment, I give the nod between those two guys to Breaston, but if the Cardinals get good quarterback play next season, each of those guys are going to be owned in most fantasy leagues.
2010 Fantasy Football Offseason
ESPN.comkeeps you connected to fantasy football all offseason long with updated rankings, mock drafts and analysis of all the important moves.
NFL Draft• Day 1: Ryan Mathews the big winner
• Day 2: Toby Gerhart now a handcuff
• Day 3: Rounds 4-7 can yield sleepers
• Matthew Berry's Top 150, updated June 4
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated May 11
• Fantasy Staff Top 200, updated April 30
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated April 19
• Matthew Berry's Top 100, April 8
Analysis from Christopher Harris
• Don't expect much from T.O. in Cincinnati
• Vincent Jackson no longer a top 25 receiver
• Jason Campbell is still bland in Oakland
• LenDale White, Leon Washington in Seattle
• Brandon Marshall deal to Miami boosts Henne
• Santonio Holmes' value falls with trade to Jets
• Donovan McNabb's stock drops with Redskins
• Willie Parker joins Redskins veteran RBBC
• Browns wheeling and dealing potential options
• LDT signing with Jets muddies Greene's value
• Larry Johnson still irrelevant with Redskins
• Derrick Mason's re-signing helps Flacco
• Antonio Bryant decent fit with Bengals
• Thomas Jones loses lots of value with Chiefs
• Reggie Brown intriguing with Tampa Bay
• Boldin trade doesn't do much for his value
• Taylor, Burleson open free-agency season
• NFL scouting combine fantasy review