Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been one of the bigger surprises in the 2018 football season. Serving as second-fiddle to A.J. Green, Boyd has recorded 56 receptions for 756 yards and five touchdowns. However, with Green out, Boyd has had to the play the role of the Bengals top receiver.
From a fantasy perspective, there are two ways to look at players like Boyd when the WR1 goes down. On the one hand, they’ll receive more opportunities now that the more talented player isn’t on the field. On the other hand, with Green gone, defenses can put more focus on stopping Boyd. Generally speaking, if a player is a true WR1, their production will increase. If they’re better as a role player, their production will drop.
Throughout two games with Green, Boyd has shown himself to be better suited for the WR2 role. While that still makes him valuable in fantasy, it’s probably best to leave him on your bench until A.J. Green returns to the lineup.
Fantasy Football: Keep Tyler Boyd Benched Until A.J. Green Returns
A.J. Green has missed the past two games for the Bengals, and Tyler Boyd has not been able to fill the role. During his two games as the WR1, Boyd has recorded just seven receptions for 136 yards. This production, while not the worst in the world, is certainly not ideal for anyone in your fantasy lineup.
Perhaps what’s most concerning is who he faced off against. While he managed to put up 71 yards and four receptions against a good Baltimore Ravens defense, he needed 11 targets to get those results. This is wildly inefficient production, which doesn’t bode well for Boyd moving forward.
One week earlier, Boyd faced off against a New Orleans Saints team that simply cannot stop the wide receiver position. Per Pro Football Reference, the Saints allow a league-worst 30.5 fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position (standard scoring). Despite this, Boyd finished his night with an underwhelming three receptions for 65 yards. The Bengals were in catch-up mode all day, so Boyd should have had opportunities to gain garbage time yards, at the very least.
The schedule does not get easier for Boyd. Over the next three weeks, the Bengals face the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Los Angeles Chargers. These defenses rank 19th, 14th, and 10th against wide receivers in fantasy, respectively. If Boyd wasn’t able to put up numbers against the Saints, it’s hard to imagine him doing it against any of these teams.
The Bengals Aren’t the Same Team Anymore
Even if Boyd managed to find some life, the team around him is falling apart. Cincinnati got off to a 4-1 start to the season, averaging 30.6 points per game. During that timeframe, Boyd recorded 30 receptions for 393 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Bengals offense as a whole just hasn’t been the same over the past month.
Since Week Seven, the Bengals have averaged just 20.5 points per game, including one game where they dropped 37 on a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. When taking out that game (the Bucs defense shouldn’t count as an NFL-caliber unit), the Bengals are averaging just 15 points per game over the past month.
During that time, Boyd has basically gone away. In the past month, Boyd has recorded 19 receptions for 301 yards and a touchdown. While this production might look serviceable on paper, it looks a whole lot worse when taking out the Buccaneers game. In the other three games, Boyd has a combined 10 receptions for 163 yards and no scores.
Last Word on Tyler Boyd Without A.J. Green
Boyd had a fantastic start to the season back when the Bengals offense was clicking on all cylinders. However, over the past month or so, the Bengals as a whole have struggled. Andy Dalton has regressed to his career norm and the offense is averaging over 10 fewer points per game than earlier in the season.
Naturally, this overall ineffectiveness has negatively impacted Boyd. The offense was struggling with Green in the lineup, and it’s only gotten worse with him gone. Boyd’s not good enough to overcome a naturally slumping offense and the extra defensive focus from Green’s absence. He might be able to produce against the worst defenses in the league, but he’s not facing any of those in the near future.
The Browns, Broncos, and Chargers are all decent-to-good at preventing fantasy production at the wide receiver position. Even if Boyd were a true WR1, he might struggle to produce against this slate of defenses. With his skillset being relatively limited, it’s hard to imagine him doing much of anything against these defenses.
Obviously, at this point in the season, Boyd may be the best option left on the table. The waiver wire is thin in deeper leagues and there may not be a better player. However, make sure to take a look anyway and see what else is available. Doing so just might save your season.
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