Why Do Fantasy Football Owners Hate Anquan Boldin?

All Anquan Boldin does is produce, so why is his average draft position always so low?

2013: Was Anquan Boldin the Most Underrated Receiver This Season?

2014: Why Anquan Boldin Is Better Than You Think

2015: Why Do Fantasy Football Owners Hate Anquan Boldin?

There's still time for this to change, but early average draft position data pegs Anquan Boldin as a 10th- (PPR) or 11th-round wide receiver in fantasy football.

This cost comes despite the fact that Boldin had 129 and 130 targets, respectively, over the last two seasons as a 49er. He's a 10th-round PPR selection even though he led the entire NFL in Target Net Expected Points two years ago, and was the best high-volume wideout per target, according to our metrics, on his team last year. By far.

Oh, and did I mention that, over the last two seasons, Anquan Boldin has finished as the 18th and 15th best wide receiver in fantasy football?

Yet, here we are again, watching nearly 50 wide receivers get selected before Boldin in fantasy football drafts.

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I don't really get it. Since entering the league, take a look at what Boldin's done from a statistical and fantasy (PPR) standpoint.

YearTeamGamesTgtRecYdsTDFantasy WR Rank

OK, so let me get this straight. Boldin's currently leaving the board as the 45th wide receiver in PPR leagues according to, but the worst he's ever -- ever -- finished in fantasy football is WR35. And that came back in 2011, his first year as a Baltimore Raven, in an offense that featured a whole lot of tight end targets (145).

A Locked-In Role in San Francisco

When Boldin made the move to San Francisco, he became Colin Kaepernick's favorite target. Easily. Boldin's the only 49er to see more than 110 targets in any of the two full, 16-game seasons Colin Kaepernick has been under center, and Boldin's two campaigns, as I said above, saw 129 and 130 targets, respectively.

I won't take the lazy approach and say that Boldin's now a lock to reach that type of volume again in 2015, because a lot has changed in the Bay Area. Michael Crabtree is gone, Torrey Smith is there, and the 49ers signed receiving back Reggie Bush over the offseason.

So let's break down Boldin's potential volume not by assuming things will remain the same, but by using Colin Kaepernick's tendencies along with the current personnel on the 49ers.

Over the past two years -- again, these are the two seasons Kaepernick has started 16 games for San Francisco -- the 49ers' receiving groups have seen the following percentage of Kaepernick's drop backs.

YearTargetsPercentage of Targets
2013Wide Receiver56.10%
2013Tight End26.10%
2013Running Back17.80%
2014Wide Receiver71.31%
2014Tight End15.38%
2014Running Back13.31%

If you watched the 49ers over the last couple of years, this table shouldn't surprise you all that much. Tight end Vernon Davis dropped off the face of the Earth in 2014, seeing just 3.57 targets per game after averaging 5.6 per contest the year prior. Much of this, though, seems to be due to the fact that Michael Crabtree was healthy -- in 2013, the 49ers really had no second receiver, as Crabtree missed 11 games, hauling in just 33 targets.

In other words, with two healthy receivers and Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis really hasn't been all that relevant. This is hard to dispute -- with Kaepernick quarterbacking, Davis has averaged 6.1 targets per game without Crabtree, the team's number-two receiver (in terms of volume). When Crabtree's been healthy, that number falls to just 4.1. Basically, that's a one-third production drop.

To be fair, according to data from Rich Hribar, the NFL average for targeting wide receivers was 60.3% last year -- Kaepernick and the 49ers were way over that total. But even if we assume the 49ers are just average in the category, that still means good things for Boldin.

If the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick have the same volume through the air as last year, with this 60.3% mark, we're looking at 289 targets to wide receivers.

Last season, non-Boldin and Crabtree receivers saw 30% of the 49ers wide receiver targets. In other words, with the exact same volume from Kaepernick as a season ago, we're looking at roughly 203 targets between Boldin and Smith.

This is the absolute floor, to me, for these two players. Because there are plenty of things that help a player like Boldin's cause. First, we know that Kaepernick hasn't targeted his wide receivers in a traditional way -- last season, only the Eagles (again, hat tip to Rich Hribar) targeted their wideouts at a higher rate. We also know that the experience behind Boldin and Smith is lacking -- Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington have started a combined zero NFL games. And lastly, why should we assume the 49ers are going to throw the ball at such a low rate this season (they had the seventh-fewest drop backs last year) considering their offensive line woes, a change in offensive coordinator and no running back with legitimate experience?

There's also the idea that Boldin could still out-target Torrey Smith, who's seen over 110 targets in a single season just once in four years. And with a whacky offensive line, wouldn't the player who can create his own separation closer to the line of scrimmage be the more logical option for Colin Kaepernick?

All of this is to say that Boldin, as long as he's healthy, should reach 100 targets -- if not plenty more -- in 2015. And with that kind of volume, along with his historical effectiveness, a WR45 price tag is silly.