Boldin Lions


By Bryan Sweet, DFW Senior Writer and Co-Owner, @FantasyFreakDFW


Entering the 2003 NFL Draft, Anquan Boldin was known as a receiver who relied on physicality more than finesse, but led the ACC in TD receptions in 2002 (13), good enough for third in all of college football.  The Combine was a disaster, however, as a slow forty time (4.71 seconds) and poor vertical jump (33.5 inches) caused his slide into the second round.  Then September 7, 2003 happened.  Against his most recent employer, Boldin exploded for 10 receptions for 217 yards (the record for most receiving yards in a game by a rookie) and two TDs and established himself as a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

For the past 13 seasons, Boldin has piled up 1,009 receptions (12th all-time entering 2016), 13,195 yards (17th) and 74 TDs (33rd).  Boldin joins his fourth team in the Detroit Lions and will look to help fill the void created by the retirement of Calvin Johnson.  Boldin and the Lions agreed on a one-year deal with terms undisclosed as of this writing.


2013San Francisco16851,1797
2014San Francisco16831,0625
2015San Francisco14697894
NFL Totals1861,00913,19574


Boldin is on the downside of his career and will turn 36 a month into the 2016 season, but he provides a veteran presence and sure-handed option for a team desperately searching for help at the WR position.  Boldin has been a model of consistency throughout his career, never catching fewer than 56 passes in a season and eclipsing 750 receiving yards in every year with the exception of his injury-shortened 2004 campaign.  Boldin figures to work as the team’s third WR, behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, but should see the field enough to warrant fantasy consideration in the latter part of drafts.  Boldin will be competing for catches with Theo Riddick, TJ Jones and Eric Ebron, primarily, but his signing might bump one of Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley, Corey Fuller or Andre Caldwell off the team.  Boldin is nowhere near his borderline WR1 days, but he could be productive enough in Detroit’s offense to finish as a WR4 and provide quality depth for fantasy teams and potentially some spot starts as injuries take their toll around the NFL.  Stats similar to last season (69-789-4) seem within reason, numbers which slotted right around the middle of the WR4 tier in a standard scoring system.


Detroit made the WR position a priority this offseason, signing eight WRs since mid-March.  Obviously, the biggest motivator behind these moves was the retirement of Calvin Johnson.  On paper, it appears the Lions will roll Tate and Marvin Jones as the primary receivers, with Boldin, TJ Jones, Riddick and Ebron contributing as the secondary options.  The Lions also drafted O-Line help to, hopefully, better protect Matthew Stafford and give him time to work through his progressions.  Boldin will provide veteran leadership and a strong locker room presence, and should contribute on the field with his physical brand of football and ability to make the tough catch.  The biggest question surrounding Boldin as we enter the season is, can he continue to play at a high level as a 36-year-old, 13-year veteran or will Father Time claim yet another victim?


The 49ers have a slew of unknowns at WR this season behind Torrey Smith.  The odds on favorite to start opposite Smith right now appears to be Bruce Ellington, but a case could be made for Quinton Patton, Eric Rogers or Jerome Simpson.  Despite the perceived lack of talent at the position, San Francisco elected to allow Boldin to depart via free agency.  The arrival of Chip Kelly throws another wrench into the outlook for the 49ers this year.  With a quarterback battle between Blaine Gabbert (!) and Colin Kaepernick ongoing, the fantasy impact coming from the Bay area seems to be minimal.  Carlos Hyde is the most attractive fantasy option, and he’s generally being drafted as no better than a RB2.  I’ll be surprised if anybody other than Smith eclipses Boldin’s numbers from 2015 and Boldin’s presence and leadership will be sorely missed as the season goes on.