Dynasty Outlook: Golden Tate
It’s happened again to the Detroit Lions. In 1999, 31-year-old RB Barry Sanders retired only two years into his contract extension with the Detroit Lions, leaving the team out to dry.
Only a few days ago, 30-year old Calvin Johnson has supposedly informed that Lions that he plans to retire. People from around the league have been shocked by Megatron’s decision to leave the game while still performing at an elite level.
When Sanders left in 1999, the Lions had no sufficient backup to pick up the slack. Sanders had 1,491 rushing yards in 1998. In contrast, 1999 RBs Greg Hill and Ron Rivers combined for only 837 rushing yards.
The 2016 Detroit Lions have a void to fill, just as the 1999 Lions did. However, they have a sufficient piece in Golden Tate to fill the void left by Johnson’s impending retirement.
Tate has historically performed well, both in backup roles and as a starter. In 2012, Tate served as Seattle’s No. 2 receiver behind Sidney Rice.
With Russell Wilson throwing the rock, Tate hauled in 45-of-68 targets for 688 yards and seven touchdowns, which was good for the 33rd-most fantasy points among wideouts in standard scoring. As the new starter in 2013, Tate hauled in 64-of-99 targets for 898 yards and five touchdowns, finishing 29th.
After signing with the Lions via free agency in 2014, Tate again assumed the No. 2 receiver role. QB Matthew Stafford threw the ball 602 times in 2014, a whopping 195 more times than Wilson in 2013.
As the No. 2, Tate grabbed 99-of-144 targets for 1331 yards and four touchdowns. This was a career year for Tate, and he finished 13th among WRs.
However, it is important to note that in 2014, Johnson missed three games from Weeks 6-8, and missed much of Week 5’s game when he left early due to injury. During those four weeks as the No. 1 wideout, Tate totaled 31 receptions for 483 yards and three touchdowns.
Over the course of a full season, that would average out to 124 receptions for 1,932 yards and 12 touchdowns (265.2 fantasy points). In Johnson’s best year, he caught 122 balls for 1,964 yards and five touchdowns (220.4 fantasy points). The best equivalent to those numbers in 2015 was Antonio Brown, who totaled 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns (246.2 fantasy points).
Now, it is unreasonable to think that Tate can completely fill Johnson’s shoes. Johnson was a generational talent who toyed with 2,000 receiving yards in 2012 and 16 touchdowns in 2011. However, it is not crazy to think that Golden Tate can deliver high-end WR2 numbers in the future.
In 2015, Tate proved he’s still a valuable No. 2 wideout, catching 90-of-128 targets for 813 yards and six touchdowns (34th in WR scoring). Tate should inherit Detroit’s No. 1 receiver role and an increased workload in 2016. Tate is still in his prime at 27, and he should be a valuable asset in Detroit for the remaining three years of his contract.
Tate is gaining value in all leagues. He should be acquired as early as possible before owners realize the future value of this talented player.