The fantasy football world was stunned today as Anquan Boldin decided to walk away from football and instead focus on community work, citing a purpose “higher than football.” Boldin has been a dynasty asset for the better part of the past 14 seasons after he exploded onto the scene with the Arizona Cardinals in 2003, setting the rookie record for receptions that still stands with an amazing 101. While he isn’t the player he once was, this news is significant for Buffalo. The Bills now have a roster looking much different than it did just three weeks ago with the trades of Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby and now the retirement of Boldin. They’re clearly rebuilding and it’s fair to wonder if Boldin just simply didn’t want to be a part of it. Frankly, I might find a higher calling as well if I was a veteran player on a team that looks like they have no intention of trying to really compete in 2017. Let’s take a look at the different players affected by the surprise news.
Anquan Boldin, WR FA
Over his 14-year career, Boldin amassed 1,076 career receptions (ninth all-time), 13,779 receiving yards (14th all-time) and 82 touchdowns (tied for 23rd all-time) as he played for four different teams. Boldin’s effectiveness was deteriorating as his yards per catch average had decreased every year from a robust 15.6 in 2011 with the Ravens to a very pedestrian 8.7 last season with the Lions. Still, he was going to be counted on by the Bills, especially with the recent trade of Watkins. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boldin resurface with a contender later on but it sounds like he’s pretty steadfast in his decision. If this is truly it, we’ll miss watching one of the true tough guys on Sundays.
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Tyrod Taylor, QB BUF
Things have gone from bad to worse for Taylor, who is simply being set up to fail this season. The Bills are already talking about getting Nathan Peterman more first team reps already and it seems Buffalo would rather see what they have in Peterman than give Taylor a legitimate chance to be the long-term answer at quarterback. Without Boldin and Watkins, Taylor has lost two very legitimate weapons in the passing game. He’ll now be asked to compete with a receiving corps featuring rookie Zay Jones, Jordan Matthews and Andre Holmes. I just featured Taylor in the “32 Teams, 32 Questions: The AFC East” article a few days ago and things have now become even worse for him.
LeSean McCoy, RB BUF
You could make a case losing Boldin will create more defensive attention on McCoy but that’s probably a lazy narrative. Boldin was still going to be dangerous but the offense was going to run through McCoy anyway. I just wonder if McCoy could be the next Bill to go. After failing to lure Jeremy Maclin to Buffalo and seeing Darby, Watkins and Boldin go, it’s fair to wonder just how happy Shady is in Buffalo. The Bills have a capable runner in Jonathan Williams and they have a window to sell on McCoy if they really want to build to the future and stockpile more draft picks in an effort to likely secure one of the draft’s best quarterbacks next year.
Zay Jones, WR BUF
Jones has gone from the third receiving option to either the first or second in a hurry. It’s a lot to ask of a rookie but he has a good opportunity for sure. If there’s good fantasy news from the past two weeks in Buffalo, it’s the fact Jones is going to get some early chances and a pretty long leash this year as he learns on the job – let’s just hope that doesn’t rattle his confidence and stunt his development.
Jordan Matthews, WR BUF
Matthews suffered a chip fracture in his sternum at his first Bills practice but seems to be rebounding. He should have plenty of opportunities to shine this year with Watkins and now Boldin out of the picture. He and Jones should get all the work they can possibly handle and even though the Bills look to be a team on the decline, Matthews’ dynasty value is on the rise.
Andre Holmes, WR BUF
If there’s a real winner in this, it’s likely Holmes. He’s gone from a depth chart afterthought to a starter in a hurry. Holmes has always flashed talent but never really put it all together. Before you go too crazy trying to acquire him, keep in mind he’ll likely be the third option and is already 29 years old. Still, there are quite a few believers in Holmes who think he’s just never been given a legitimate chance to shine – that should end now. Expect the dynasty ADP of all three of the Bills pass catchers to rise in the coming months:
Rod Streater, WR BUF
Streater would also be a winner with this news but the Bills have been eerily silent about the extent of his recent injury, saying only that “surgery is an option.” If he can play this season, there’s some upside here.
Charles Clay, TE BUF
You could make a strong case for Clay getting a moderate bump in value with Boldin’s departure as well. After all, Boldin was set to be a red zone weapon and chain mover and Clay will undoubtedly absorb some of those targets moving forward. However, he’s still a player who finds himself in a large tier of tight ends and it’s hard to get too excited here. This just doesn’t change things enough to vault him too much higher within the tier.
Nathan Peterman, QB BUF
Would it surprise anyone to wake up one morning here soon and see that Taylor or McCoy had been traded? Taylor is already going to be asked to do the near impossible and it should be expected that Peterman makes starts this year at some point when the Bills start losing games. He’s not the most exciting quarterback prospect but the Bills do like him and will likely see what they have if and when things go south this season.
The Bills are a team in flux and it’s clear Anquan Boldin wanted no part of it. The Patriots have to be sitting back and laughing at this point. Miami has already lost their quarterback, the Jets aren’t close to finding one and the Bills seem willing to accept they simply can’t compete and are losing players on a near daily basis. The loss of Boldin will have an impact in dynasty leagues and it’s fair to wonder if there aren’t a few more dominoes to fall in Buffalo.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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