You know the story, Golden Tate was drafted in most PPR leagues as the 32nd wide receiver last year only to finish the season as a WR1. A lot of analysts have pointed out that Tate’s production was inflated while teammate Calvin Johnson was dealing with injuries and that is probably true but I also think it may be foolish to hold that as a knock against him when Megatron has had some sort of injury in seven out of 11 seasons. But to further my case for optimism here, let’s get into Tate’s numbers when a healthy Johnson was on the field.
So, clearly the numbers dipped when Calvin played and was stealing away some volume. The things is, his numbers should have dipped when a freak like Megatron was on the field. But that doesn’t mean Tate wasn’t a quality fantasy option.
Projecting these numbers to a 16 game season, Tate would’ve scored around 200 PPR points and finished as the 26th WR in 2014. Interestingly sandwiched between the two receivers being taken before and after him in average draft position: Jordan Matthews and Sammy Watkins.
What We Can Learn From His Numbers
If we take the projected numbers for Tate in the split and run it through Pro Football Reference we see that only 20 WRs were targeted over 115 times and averaged over 65 yards per game last year.
If we exclude Tate from those names, only AJ Green finished outside the top 20 PPR WRs. Even with Green finishing at WR24, this seems to give these number averages a safe top 25 projection and therefore as long as Tate can maintain a solid target market share, it would appear to give him an exceptionally high floor.
Are There Enough Targets To Go Around?
For those that may argue that quarterback Matthew Stafford only has eyes for Calvin and that may hurt Tate’s chances, I’ll admit that I can’t totally dismiss that. But it could be that Stafford’s never had a receiver that’s even in a near universe talent wise or in terms of efficiency. Until now…
In fact, over the last two years Tate actually topped Johnson in AYA. I’m not saying I think this means he deserves equal targets to Johnson but it does point to him being a receiver Stafford can trust. Last season in the 11 games that Calvin saw five or more passes, Tate received 20 percent of the targets; I would set that as the baseline and probably expect that it could increase with another season playing together.
I think too much time has been dedicated to tearing down Tate’s production last season and I hope this more optimistic outlook will get you to take advantage of the value in drafting him at WR20. I personally believe he not only has a exceptionally safe floor but also may have the most overlooked top 10 upside of any receiver in his tier.
We know that if Calvin is forced to miss time this season, Tate has the potential to explode. And if Johnson manages to stay healthy, we still know Tate should be a safe WR2 with potential to return value if the Lions passing game takes a step forward under Joe Lombardi’s system.
Drafters are taking other receivers over him that he matches in terms of safety and that he probably trumps in terms of upside. Being able to snag him at the end of the fourth round, means that if you’re a proponent of loading up on running backs and waiting on WRs, he’ll be one of the earlier shots at landing the proverbial Golden ticket.