Mr.BoomBostick: Maybe Fantastic?
Ted Thompson has a sterling reputation for finding talent. Not just the bright and glaring talent, like the obvious first rounders, but digging a little deeper and turning diamonds-in-the-rough into full-fledged shining stars. Recent receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings weren't first round wideouts - they went in the second. And Donald Driver, one of the most decorated members in Packer history, went undrafted. The man has an eye for talent - at least from a receiving perspective - and when he gathers it, he goes to the shop and chisels them into bonafide studs who you can't believe weren't first round picks.
Thompson's most recent project may be second-year tight end Brandon Bostick
Next In Line
The Packers don't think like that. They save their picks, build through the draft each year and they go with the next man up. The Packers have had to test that strategy early and often this year, most recently with the loss of do-it-all-dynamo Randall Cobb and a talented wideout in James Jones. Instead of gunning for a trade, the Pack unpacked two unknown packages in Jarrett Boykin and Myles White. If you don't live in Green Bay, you say, "Uh, who?" But just like any other time with the Packers, they came out and filled in just fine.
Unfortunately, last week, tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a scary injury versus the Browns. Luckily for J-Mike, it looks like he will be OK, but there is much doubt surrounding his status for the season. Finley comprised a large part of the Green Bay offense, and the Packers will need to replace him. A man you probably have never heard of has a chance to do just that.
Filling In For Finley
Who will be Jermichael's replacement? Well, in a deeper league, or for you impulsive upside-seeking sleuths (which I admittedly am), I think Bostick is a very interesting option. Andrew Quarless is currently listed as the backup to Finley, then comes a pooling of Ryan Taylor, Bostick and Jake Stoneburner. Who? Exactly.
Quarless is primarily a blocking tight end, having hands similar to Bubba Franks. He's registered just four catches for 28 yards this season and 302 total yards in three years. It'd be doubtful to see him as the one who the Packers look to use in replacing Jermichael's athleticism. He may get looks initially due to being more familiar with the offense, but he's not exciting. Like, he's not exciting at all.
From everything I've absorbed, Taylor and Stoneburner are non-factors to replace Finley, which leaves us with Bostick. He's extremely athletic and the one most likely to step into Jermichael's "seam" routes. Finley is one of the founding fathers of those new-school tight ends that are half-basketball, half-football players. He's always been sort of a mix between wide receiver and tight end, doing a bit of both.
During the 2013 season thus far, Jermichael's lined up in the slot 32.7 percent of the time, and out wide 13.1 percent. Finley had been relatively heavily-targeted this year (at least for tight ends.) He typically saw seven or eight targets a game, and was looked at five times last week before his injury with 10 minutes remaining in the game. All this leaves a lot of opportunity here for Bostick to make his presence felt, if indeed he shows off his athleticism and can outperform Quarless.
Wide End? Tight Receiver?
Bostick is a former wide receiver who has journeyed to lands where the ends are tight. Like Finley, Jordan Cameron, Antonio Gates and others, he's also a former basketball player. I know this "stat" is getting overused, but it speaks to the athleticism he possesses.
Bostick sees the world from 6'3'' and is made of 250 pounds. Eric Balkman from AcmePackingCo wrote in May: "at Bostick's 2012 two pro days (at Newberry and at Coastal Carolina), he blazed his 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds and notched a 36-inch vertical jump. For comparison's sake, those measurables would have been best and second-best among tight ends at this year's NFL combine."
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com reported in August that other teams were calling to gauge availability of Bostick as rumbles rumbled that he'd been showing "eye-opening potential as a downfield weapon." I also reached out to Zach Kruse who covers the Packers on CheeseHeadTV and is a Bleacher Report writer, and he had this to say about Bostick: "I really like him. Raw, but athletic and with a basketball background. Can maybe work the seam in place of Finley."
Luckily for the Packers, (and not surprisingly) they've refrained from other teams' offers, and Bostick will have his chance to do just that.
There are a couple of things numberFire's analytics uncover in relation to Finley's involvement and the Packers offense overall. As of today, Finley is the 10th overall ranked tight end in Yahoo fantasy standard leagues, but ranks 17th out of all tight ends with 34 targets. Finley did miss a full game (plus the fourth quarter last week), which speaks to both his 10th overall rank (in a great way) and his 18th rank in targets (in an explanatory way.)
Finley was the fourth option behind Nelson, Cobb and Jones, yet still yielded very strong numbers, which were likely to be on the incline due to the team's injuries. Eddie Lacy is becoming a legit stud, smashing and spinning through doomed defenders. Having a fearful run game has given the passing attack a cleaner landscape compared to the past couple of seasons.
But to show the pure "quality" of the Packer passing game, let's dig into the numbers. Their overall passing net expected points is 59.64, and when adjusted for strength of schedule, that number actually increases by about five points due to tough competition. That's good for fifth best in the league. This metric tells us how well above or below expectation, in terms of points, a team is performing. Clearly Bostick is getting an opportunity with one of the best pass offenses in the NFL.
Now Or Later?
With all of this said, should you pick up B-Squared right now? If you're desperate, yes. It's good to add guys with otherworldly quarterbacks. It clearly depends on your league's size (probably 12-plus teams), competitiveness and obviously your need for tight end. If you're currently playing the matchups with Brandons' Myers and Pettigrew, I'd take a shot on Bostick and drop one of them. If you're a streamer, I'm not quite ready to plug him into your lineup yet as his role has not yet been seen on the field (and still needs to beat out the other tight ends).
Frankly, in any scenario, I'm not starting him yet, but he's a stimulating "stash and see". The Packers have already had their bye, so that's always a plus. Teddy Thompson held onto Brandon when other teams came calling, so the team clearly has faith in him. His history combined with Bostick's ability and the opportunity at hand are all positives for him, and enough to think that - a good fantasy season - could happen.
You're making this add for the possibility that he becomes 75-80 percent of what Jermichael Finley was. You're hoping he takes that "eye-opening potential" from practice and starts opening eyes on Sundays instead. This is the type of pickup that your league mates see on the transactions page and say "Who the heck is that guy?" Then, within a few weeks, you either drop him with a tail between your legs, or your opponents will think of you as a future-gazing genius. Risk takers: load up the B.B. Gun.