The Green Bay Packers‘ offense suffered through a slew of injuries last season. The Packers played without two of their prominent receivers for much of the season. WR Randall Cobb fractured his right leg on Oct. 13 last year, and TE Jermichael Finley suffered a spinal cord contusion a week later.
While no fantasy football player should ever cheer when a player gets injured, injuries do happen. And when they happen, both NFL teams and fantasy teams are quick to find the “next man up”. Enter Jarrett Boykin.
The second-year WR saw a lot of snaps in 2013 after Cobb fractured his leg. While he was by no means a fantasy star, Boykin showed glimpses of his potential and ended the season with a respectable 681 yards and three touchdowns. Also, let’s not forget that Boykin played half of those games with a combination of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn under center while Aaron Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has already told reporters that he “can’t say enough about Boykin.” The question is, will Boykin be fantasy relevant in 2014? The answer is yes. I think that Boykin will be a WR4, but he has the upside of finishing as a WR2. Here’s why.
Boykin will play a lot more snaps next year. The Packers let James Jones walk this offseason, and he has since signed with the Oakland Raiders. With Jones out of the picture, Boykin is now the clear-cut third wide receiver for the Packers’ offense. And Green Bay runs plenty of three-WR sets.
Much like the Denver Broncos, the Packers’ high-octane passing offense with Rodgers as their QB can support three fantasy-relevant WRs. Let’s examine the yards and TDs that we can expect in 2014. Since Rodgers didn’t play a full season in 2013, let’s extrapolate from his 2012 data.
In 2012, Rodgers threw for just shy of 4,300 yards and 39 TDs. While we can’t predict exact stats for Rodgers in 2014, let’s use those numbers as a baseline estimate and assume that he repeats his 2012 performance.
Let’s be generous and give Jordy Nelson and Cobb each 1,300 yards and 10 TDs. Now let’s say that Andrew Quarless or whoever the Packers’ starting TE is for the season gets a reasonable 600 yards and six TDs. A reasonable receiving estimate for Eddie Lacy might be 300 yards and three TDs.
That still leaves Boykin with 800 yards and 10 TDs. Obviously this is a very imprecise guess. If you could deduce future statistics from prior season performances, fantasy football wouldn’t be much of a game. But this should give you some idea of Boykin’s potential. If he can reach 800 yards and 10 TDs, he would be a very good candidate to be a top-20 WR. And this is all assuming that Rodgers just repeats his 2012 performance.
Two big changes have occurred since 2012. First, the Packers now have a deadly running game in Lacy to complement Rodgers. Second, the NFC North now has some prolific offenses. The Chicago Bears have Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. The Detroit Lions have Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Who knows what will happen if the Minnesota Vikings draft a superb QB like Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater?
The Packers may find themselves in quite a few shootouts in 2014. If that happens, you can bet that Jarrett Boykin will play a big role and get his fair share of receptions and TDs. Keep Boykin on your radar for next year, and you could end up with a top-20 WR for a very low cost.