Why are we undervaluing Tyler Boyd?
First off, to those who are reading this, congratulations, because you are about to receive insight on one of the most slept on and undervalued players in fantasy football for 2019.
What if I told you there was a guy currently being drafted near the WR30 who has all of the ability to flirt with being a top 10 wide receiver? You’d be all ears, right?
Well here we are, ready to break down the game and projected 2019 season for none other than Tyler Boyd of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Let’s just get right into things.
I think the first thing we need to talk about is that the Bengals are under new leadership with first year Head Coach Zac Taylor taking over after the Bengals finally parted ways with long time coach Marvin Lewis in the off-season.
In 2018, the Bengals ranked 18th in the league in passing-attempts-per-game at 33.9. The same team ranked 26th in rushing-attempts-per-game at 22.4 and ranked 31st in time-of-possession at 27:26.
What I’m trying to get to here is, the Bengals’ offense last year was bland, operated under a slow pace and ranked in the bottom third in the league of offensive plays run per game.
Taylor comes over from the Los Angeles Rams where he served as Sean McVay’s assistant wide receiver coach in 2017 and the assistant quarterbacks coach in 2018.
Now it’s impossible to say what exactly Taylor’s influence was on the high-flying Rams’ offense or what he is going to bring to the Bengals from his time with the Rams.
However, Taylor has served as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, which may be more reflective of what he plans to do with the Bengals.
During his time in Miami, under Taylor, the Dolphins averaged 36.8 passing-attempts-per-game. The Rams averaged 35.5 passing-attempts-per-game last season. Averaging the two numbers together, we get 36.15 passing-attempts-per-game, which equates to 2.25 more than what the Bengals averaged a year ago.
Why is this important? Because this gives the Bengals 36 more passing attempts across the 16 games from a year ago, which in turn, gives Boyd more looks.
Another major factor we need to look into is actually nothing that has to do with Boyd himself.
In 2018, Boyd performed better when A.J. Green was on the field as opposed to when he was not.
Many will immediately point out that for the majority of the games that Boyd played without Green, he was also without Andy Dalton, who missed the final five games of the season.
If we take both Dalton’s and backup’s Jeff Driskel’s averaged stats across their starts in 2018 and average them across a projected 16 game season, we see that Dalton would have 20% more completions, 15% more attempts, 34% more yards and 48% more touchdowns than Driskel. Boyd played without Dalton for games 11-14.
So if we adjust Boyd’s game stats from games 11, 12, 13 and 14 to reflect what it may be like if Dalton was on the field and add those game stats to what he had done under Dalton earlier in the season, we get a projected 16-game stat line with Green on the field of 99.6 receptions, 1,274.4 receiving yards and 9.8 touchdowns.
Doing the same calculations expect using the games Boyd played without Green a year ago for a projected 16-game season, we get a line of 76.8 receptions, 1,185.6 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns.
This is a difference of 22.8 receptions, 89.1 yards and 1.8 touchdowns, or 42.51 points in PPR scoring in fantasy football, which is significant.
Also something to note, beginning in 2013, Green has played all 16 games every other season. Last season he missed 7 games, meaning he is on trend to be on the field for all 16 this season.
So last season, between Dalton and Diskel, the Bengals attempted 541 passes. At the projected 133.3 targets that Boyd would have received with Green on the field and Dalton under center, he would have received 23% of team targets.
If we look back at the start of the article, we projected that the Bengals are to have another 36 passing attempts, bringing the Bengals’ total to 577 and Boyd’s share at 23% to 142 targets.
Between his rookie and sophomore seasons, Boyd increased his catching-percentage by 2.1 percent. Between his sophomore and third year (last season) he went up another 1.6 percent. If we average 2.1% with 1.6% we come to a 1.85% increase in Boyd’s catching percentage. This puts his receptions at 102 for 2019.
Per Boyd’s projected 2018 16-game stat line that we produced with Green and Dalton on the field, he would have averaged 12.8 yards-per-reception.
At 102 receptions, this would put him at 1,305.6 receiving yards.
Dalton and Driskel combined for 27 passing touchdowns last season, meaning they scored a touchdown on every 20th pass. With 36 added attempts, this puts us at 1.8 added passing touchdowns for the team. With a 23% share of looks, this will put Boyd’s projected touchdowns from just shy of 10 in our 16-game projection in 2018 to over 10 in 2019.
So this stat line of 102 receptions, 1,305.6 yards and 10 touchdowns would have made him WR8 in standard and half-point PPR scoring formats and WR9 in PPR scoring in 2018.
Last season Boyd finished WR17, WR16 and WR17 respectively across those formats. If we were to simply run a 16-game projection from his stat line from a year ago, he would have finished WR11, WR12 and WR13 across the same formats.
Now I’m not saying Tyler Boyd is about to be a top 10 receiver in fantasy football this year or he is going to be anywhere near that stat line I calculated in a perfect world.
However, he’s currently being drafted 71st (WR30) on Yahoo and 65th (WR27) on ESPN. This puts him in the middle-to-late fifth round.
I was blown away after doing my research and seeing his current ADP. He has the chance to be a top 15 WR, which he showed last season being the WR17 while playing just 14 games.
The current WR15 on both ESPN and Yahoo is going in the early third round of a 12-man league.
So putting this into perspective, at this point if you take Boyd at his ADP, you’re getting a third round talent in the late fifth.
Draft Boyd and thank me later.