Free Agency Diary Entry 2 - Anquan Boldin

John GustafsonContributor IMarch 23, 2010

by John Gustafson,

I’m back! I wanted to post more than I have been able to but oh well, such is life. In my first free agency diary entry I covered some of the earlier moves but over the next few weeks leading up to the draft I want to focus in on 1 or 2 players at a time. In this edition of the free agent diary, I’ll be covering a player/move that I love, Anquan Boldin being traded to Baltimore. I was hoping the Niners would go after Boldin, but I wasn’t surprised when they didn’t. In my earlier post, I mentioned why I love Anquan Boldin. The guy is severely underrated. Although I’m disappointed he didn’t go to the Niners, I’m ecstatic that he’s leaving the NFC West and headed to a team in desperate need of a legitimate #1 WR. Derrick Mason has been serviceable for the Ravens, but he’s more of a #2 WR, not a true #1.

Fantasy wise, Boldin’s presence upgrades everyone’s stock in the Ravens offense. Joe Flacco should be considered a #1 fantasy QB and this all but cements Ray Rice as a top 5 fantasy RB. The Ravens also resigned Derrick Mason who will make a nice #3 or #4 fantasy WR in 2010 operating as a #2 WR which is a role more fitting for him. I may be crazy, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if Anquan Boldin can stay healthy, he’ll be a top 10 WR. I’m projecting him to catch around 80-90 balls for 1100-1200 yards and 8-12 TDs. Over Boldin’s career he’s averaged over 6 catches a game so should he play in all 16 games and average 5-6 catches a game, he’ll be looking at 80-96 catches which is exactly what I’m expecting out of him.

It will be interesting to see how Boldin will be perceived headed into fantasy drafts this year. I’d take him around the end of the 2nd/early 3rd round as my #1 WR if I get him in the 2nd or my #2 WR if I draft him in the 3rd (I only play in points per reception leagues and plan on drafting 2 WRs out of my first 3 picks). I will not pass on him in the 3rd round even if his average draft position is in the 4th or 5th rounds. Some fantasy players may be concerned about Boldin’s inability to stay healthy, but I’m not. I know he has only played a full 16 games twice in his 6-year career, but anyone in the NFL can go down with an injury at any time, so Boldin will be worth the risk. He may not play in all 16 games, but he has averaged over 17 points a game (when he does play) over the last 3 years. I’ll take that all day.

As far as the Cardinals, I love this from a fantasy perspective. Fitzgerald is a beast and will still get his. He’ll do that because Boldin will be replaced by either the early favorite, Steve Breaston or the darkhorse candidate, Early Doucet. Breaston has been one of the league’s best #3 WRs and would be upgraded to a #2 fantasy WR should he take over for Boldin. Doucet showed great promise in this year’s playoffs and should he beat out Breaston, I’d deem him the same value as Breaston and put him on my list as one of the best values in 2010. I’m going to keep a close eye on this situation in the offseason. If Breaston wins the job, he’ll likely be a 7th rounder and if it’s Doucet, a 9th rounder. Either way, both of these guys will be nice sleepers to have.

The Leinart/Derek Anderson situation concerns me, but I’m 70% confident that the guy who wins the starting job will do relatively well. Not Kurt Warner well, but good enough considering the tremendous amount of offensive talent they’ll be working with (the other 30% tells me this could be a messy situation all season long). Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said it’s still Leinart’s job, but I don’t believe it yet, especially after the amount of money they will be paying Anderson ($7.25 million over 2 years). The QB that emerges as the starter will be a nice guy to target late in your draft if you take the “wait on a starting QB” approach or a nice backup/trade bait on your fantasy roster. The Cardinals will be a very intriguing team this offseason with huge boom or bust potential. Stay tuned…