The deeper we get into the season, the more hesitant I am about starting players on Thursday night. This week, we have the Bengals hosting a banged-up Dolphins team. Coming off a stellar Week 3, what is Tyler Boyd’s fantasy football value this week, and should you start the Cincinnati Bengals WR against the Dolphins on Thursday night?
Tyler Boyd’s fantasy outlook against the Dolphins
When you see inconsistent and unreliable fantasy wide receivers do what Boyd did last week on your bench, it can be frustrating. Anyone who rosters Boyd and didn’t start him certainly wishes they did. Week 3 was a notoriously low-scoring week. Odds are Boyd outscored someone in your starting lineup.
Last week, despite a healthy Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, Boyd was the leading fantasy receiver on the Bengals. He caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn’t the typical Boyd game where he matriculates fantasy points through volume. His career yards per reception average is just 11.9. Boyd did it with the rare splash play, taking a Joe Burrow pass 56 yards to the house.
Boyd has four full seasons without a reception over 50 yards. That 56-yard touchdown catch marked the third-longest reception of his career. It accounted for 12.6 of his 20.5 PPR fantasy points.
Don’t chase last week’s production
As much as anyone with Boyd would have loved to have benefited from his WR1 day, those points can’t help you in Week 4. The reality is Boyd is still the clear WR3 on the Bengals.
Over the past two seasons, Boyd has averaged just 11.2 ppg in games where both Chase and Higgins were active. Chase has yet to miss a game in his career, but Higgins missed two in 2021. In those two games, Boyd averaged 17.2 ppg. It’s admittedly a small sample size, but Boyd tends to put up big numbers only when he’s elevated to the WR2 role.
Despite Boyd’s impressive performance last week, his usage remained well behind Chase and Higgins. Boyd’s target share this season sits at a paltry 11.4%. He’s run the 11th-most routes at an average of 40 per game but has just an 11.7% targets per route run rate. His average depth of target and team air yards share rank outside the top 70 amongst wide receivers.
The Dolphins are a favorable matchup for Tyler Boyd
So far, I’ve mostly discussed the reasons not to start Boyd. There are some positives.
This game could be high scoring. Ideally, Tua Tagovailoa plays and the Dolphins are able to score points in bunches, forcing the Bengals to throw to keep up.
The Bengals are throwing the ball 63% of the time overall but a league-high 74% of the time in neutral game script. The Dolphins are allowing 24.7 ppg to the slot, the eighth-most in the league. Boyd has run 80% of his routes from the slot. This is a recipe for success.
Should fantasy managers start Tyler Boyd?
Ultimately, this decision comes down to who your options are at wide receiver. Boyd currently sits at WR44 in our Week 4 wide receiver rankings.
I would not elevate Boyd any extra based on last week’s performance. There was nothing different about his usage; he just happened to catch a long touchdown. In fact, Boyd’s 68% snap share was his lowest of the season.
If you’re in a league with deep starting lineups, Boyd is likely in your lineup every week regardless. For those of you in leagues with more traditional starting rosters, Boyd probably didn’t crack your lineup each of the first two weeks. Unless you’re decimated by injury or managed to draft every bust imaginable, Boyd is better left on benches this Thursday night against the Dolphins.