My NFL articles have been few and far between recently, but I had to come out of my NASCAR shell to write about Tyler Boyd.
Why is that? Well, when Boyd’s name got called as the 55th pick going to the Cincinnati Bengals, I got together with my good friend PACO who told me that despite being the seventh WR drafted, Boyd will be a top three rookie receiver in 2016. That begs the question…who is this PACO guy and why is his name in ALL CAPS?!
You see, while Fantasy Douche has his YOLO QB strategy, I have my pal PACO. Yes, yes, PACO is an acronym. An acronym for Production, Age, Comps, and Opportunity — my preferred method for assessing wide receiver prospects. And Boyd checks the box for each of the four…phenomenally so.
What about Boyd’s slow 40-yard dash time? Or his poor vertical? Or his horrible showing on the bench press? PACO doesn’t care, because he knows production trumps combine results, all day, every day. When Jon Moore visualized the careers of several 2016 wide receiver prospects, one thing that jumped out was Boyd’s production numbers. They were, in a word…phenomenal.
He never had a season lower than 38 percent of the receiving yard market share while at Pitt. What’s more, his sophomore season demonstrated his upside, as he accounted for over 50 percent of his team’s receiving yards at a 16.2 yards per catch clip. Using Kevin Cole’s regression tree analysis, Boyd narrowly missed out on the elite tier having only 40 percent market share in his final season. Had he left after his second year, he would have qualified for the elite tier.
What’s more, Boyd is an all-around prospect who averaged 13.7 rushing yards per game, and threw four passes, completing three for 96 yards. Not to mention Boyd’s productivity in the return game. And that matters. While his return numbers weren’t quite on the level of Antonio Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, or Wes Welker, they were solid enough that it should boost his chances of overcoming some questionable athleticism numbers like each of the three aforementioned players did.
Tyler Boyd absolutely checks the age category. First, he came out of college early, which Football Outsiders says is predictive when evaluating WR prospects. Second, his draft age was 1.5 standard deviations below the mean among all WR prospects since 2004 according to Phenom Index. Finally, if we look at Football Outsider’s playmaker projection and playmaker score with Phenom Index and Kevin Cole’s logistic regression model which incorporates age as a variable, we find that Boyd ranks fourth, second, third, and fifth respectively in the 2016 WR class by these metrics. In other words, his age-adjusted production is…phenomenal.
I mentioned Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, and Wes Welker previously, but are any of them actually good comps for Boyd? To find out, I turned to the Box Score Scout. I left the default settings on with the following exceptions.
- Added CAR.RUYPG (career rushing yards per game) to account for his all-around game
- Removed FORTY and WT (weight) but added SPEEDSCORE which combines the two measures
- Removed the strength of schedule restriction to look at all similar players, regardless of competition
Here’s the list of comps that generated:
Oh hey there Brown and Hilton! What’s more, the group of names on that list are, what’s that word? Phenomenal.
Yes, Brandon Williams, Earl Bennett, and Marqise Lee are the least impressive of the bunch, highlighting potential downside. But, besides those guys, the rest of the list is pretty strong. The top comp is Stefon Diggs, who had an impressive rookie season last year. A bit further down is Keenan Allen, whom Shawn Siegele likened to Boyd. Sandwiched halfway between the two is Mohamed Sanu who, like Boyd, also made an impact with his arm and legs. Sanu also vacates one of the receiving slots in Cincy that Boyd will now fill. Which brings me to PACO’s last point…
If you’ve been a long-time reader, you’re probably sick of the phrase Targets Are the Lifeblood of Fantasy Scoring. But it’s true. And, as Kevin Cole suggests, the Bengals have a lot of opportunity for a rookie WR to see targets.
With Sanu and Marvin Jones departing for other destinations, that frees up 152 targets. They also selected Cody Core in the sixth round, but Core’s college market share numbers were nearly a full standard deviation below all prospects since 2004, including the ones who never played a snap. The Bengals also signed veteran Brandon LaFell who turns 30 this year. LaFell had a 108-target pace last year (6.7 targets per game), but that included games that Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola missed on a pass-happy offense that attempted nearly 25 percent more passes per game than the Bengals. If we adjust LaFell’s targets per game down by 25 percent, plus an additional 10 percent to account for the absences to the other receivers, LaFell projects for 70 targets if he plays all 16 games,1 leaving 82 still up for grabs.
In other words, Boyd’s selection by the Bengals means he’ll be going to a spot where the opportunity is…phenomenal.
Comparing Boyd to his 2016 rookie peers that we ranked ahead of him, he’s one of the few that PACO approves of.
Sterling Shepard went to the New York Giants, which Kevin Cole ranked as the second best landing spot for rookie wide receivers. But he ranks very poorly in age-adjusted production. The opportunity gain for Shepard over Boyd isn’t enough to offset the vast difference in production and age.
Josh Doctson went to Washington and turns 24 before the end of his rookie year. It’s been reported Washington will bide their time with Doctson as he plays, at best, fourth fiddle in the receiving game behind DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Jordan Reed. He might not be fantasy relevant until his age 25 season.
Laquon Treadwell goes to a team with the third most opportunity.2 But the Vikings are a run-oriented team that attempted the fewest passes in the league last year. And Teddy Bridgewater is less inspiring than Andy Dalton.
In redraft I’m taking Boyd as the third rookie WR off the board. In dynasty I’d strongly consider trading down and taking him as the fifth WR, two spots ahead of his post-draft rookie WR ADP of seventh.