Dynasty Draft Profile: Tyler Boyd
March 1, 2016 | Rich Hribar
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
We’re back to cover your 2016 rookie needs and will be kicking off this season with a look at the polarizing Tyler Boyd. If you’d like to get a taste for how Chad Scott and I cover incoming rookies, you can revisit any of our Dynasty Profiles from last season here.
Boyd is one of the most decorated receivers in this class in terms of production, producing at a high-end level right upon arrival to Pitt and carrying that with consistency through this past season. Since the 2004 draft, the list of drafted receivers who closed their college careers with at least 200 receptions, 3,000 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns while averaging over six receptions per game for their careers before turning 23 years old isn’t very long.
|Rashard Higgins||Colorado State||TBD||38||239||3649||31||6.3||TBD|
|Justin Blackmon||Oklahoma State||5||38||253||3564||40||6.7||1|
|Michael Crabtree||Texas Tech||10||26||231||3127||41||8.9||3|
|Michael Floyd||Notre Dame||13||43||271||3686||37||6.3||1|
|Davante Adams||Fresno State||53||26||233||3031||38||9.0||0|
|Emmanuel Sanders||Southern Methodist||82||47||285||3791||34||6.1||2|
|Antonio Brown||Central Michigan||195||41||305||3199||22||7.4||4|
Although those cutoffs were arbitrary, you can see right away that significant draft capital was invested into the players in this cohort except for Antonio Brown, and eight of the 13 players here also have provided at least one top-30 PPR season for fantasy. The list also includes Rashard Higgins from this class, who has a plethora of overlap in his production and physical profile to Boyd, but doesn’t carry nearly the same amount of tangible draft buzz. Bottom line though is that the kind of production that Boyd tallied for his career is something that hasn’t often gone overlooked by the league regardless of physical profile.
Even with such of a glowing production profile in which he produced two very precious seasons, Boyd enters the draft seeing his overall output mask his efficiency as a receiver in 2015 as nearly all of his rate stats plummeted this past season.
*YDTGT+ = Yards per target to a player versus a target to anyone else on the team
After an incredible 2014 season in which he was second in the nation in yards per target over targets going anywhere else in his offense, a target to Boyd was actually worth negative yardage compared to a target going elsewhere for Pitt this past season. Boyd played with three different quarterbacks, going from Tom Savage in 2013, Chad Voytik in 2014 and Tennessee transfer Nathan Peterman this past season, so the offense was in constant motion. They went from ranking 43rd in offensive yards per game in 2014 to 81st last season, but that loss of offensive output solely isn’t an excuse for his lowly efficiency as Pitt was also 99th in the country in 2013 when he broke out.
Pitt also lost stud runner James Connor in their season opener this season, propelling freshman Qadree Ollison to starting running back, who was a fine player in his accord, but losing Connor was a net loss for everyone in the offense and forced Pitt to rely on Boyd as the crutch of their offense.
Pitt may have overplayed their hand a tad in his ability to carry an offense because they consistently manufactured touches for him this past season, using him heavily in the backfield as a runner and a receiver. After carrying the ball 23 times for 171 yards over his first two seasons, he tallied 349 yards on 40 carries this past year. Nearly all of his explosive carries came from successful play execution over self-creation, however. His usage in this regard is almost puzzling to the degree that we had seen Arizona State use Jaelen Strong at times in his final season, because the displayed and measured athlete doesn’t match the types of artificial touches he was receiving. Boyd isn’t wildly elusive or creative once he has the football.
That also could be a negative for Boyd by the time we reach the end game, because his 2015 may shed light on the fact that he’s just not a foundation piece for an offense to run through firsthand. Although he’s often subjectively compared to Keenan Allen or even stretched to Amari Cooper in terms of play style, his objective comp list suggests some trepidation is required before fully reaching for those high end comparisons.
When looking at his lofty career production from the initial table to the objective final season and athletic comparables here, you have to question how much of that production was a byproduct of his environment over raw ability, even if he brings endearing traits to the table.
When talking about a player subjectively, it’s only natural that are minds go to the most recent positive end of the spectrum. As a reminder, objective comps aren’t intended to pigeon hole a player into a concrete set of outcomes, but provide a sobering look at players that entered the league with similar athletic and production profiles.
As you can see, it’s not an endearing group and nearly all were valued far lower by the league than what we can surely believe to be where Boyd ends up being selected in this draft. When it’s all said and done, a player like Robert Woods may be the best apples to apples objective comparison that Boyd has entering the league.
With all that said, there’s still a lot to like about Boyd and reason why he’s going to still be coveted by teams this spring. While not overly dynamic in space, he sports arguably the best hands in this class of receivers paired with strong body control. For being a player that projects to primarily do his work from the interior on the next level, Boyd has stellar boundary and ball skills in tight quarters.
As his measured athleticism suggests, more often than not, Boyd has to win within in his route and with his hands over long speed and explosion and he’s capable of doing both.
The small rub here is that we know he has those stellar qualities because he’s forced to showcase them so consistently. More than often when he creates separation; it’s generally closed instantly by college corners, so the leap into separating from NFL corners may be problematic. His lack of measured quickness and change of direction back this up. Still, the largest base for the “he’s a better football player than athlete” argument presents itself in these situations on the field.
Almost all signs point to Boyd playing a lot more from the slot while moonlighting as a flanker in the NFL, which ultimately caps his fantasy ceiling. He already showed limited touchdown upside while in college, scoring on just 8.3 percent of his career receptions-which ranks 33rd of the 42 receivers that participated in the combine this past weekend- so there’s an issue with him ever becoming a player that isn’t driven strictly by volume to earn his fantasy production.
In the end, I believe that Boyd is both overrated by his supporters but also slightly underrated by his main detractors. I definitely don’t see the projectable ceiling in place for him to warrant consideration at rookie pick 1.03, which is his current landing spot in rookie, mocks per Dynasty League Football so far this early offseason. While in a best case scenario he potentially becomes similar to the subjectively compared Keenan Allen like some suggest, I’d more place him in the Jarvis Landry/Golden Tate bucket in terms of usage and functionality for his ceiling, and you wouldn’t trade/select with that pick for either one of those established players today.
But also, his production at a young age, size, ball skills and what will very likely be significant draft capital invested in him by a team point to him having high usage early on and being a very safe floor option for fantasy, something inherently valuable.
Odds are there will always be another owner who values Boyd and his floor higher than I do, but in the event that he’s available in the back fourth of the first round, that’s a strong buying point for a player that I believe will undoubtedly have a tangible bed of production to begin his career.
If he lands in a destination with an established offense that has a clear lead receiver in place (thinking along the lines of the Giants or Bengals) that also carries enough all around passing volume to give him the volume necessary for his floor, then he can hit the ground running in helping that offense out of the packaging and potentially start stringing along several WR2-ish type seasons while running into bigger numbers in a perfect storm.