Fantasy Impact: Golden Tate to the Giants

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 14, 2019

The Giants signed Golden Tate to a four-year deal worth $37.5 million

The Giants have hit the free agent market to try and replace Odell Beckham, signing Golden Tate to a four-year deal worth $37.5 million with $23 million in guaranteed money. While it’s not going to wash away the bad taste in Giants’ fans mouth, he was the best wide receiver left on the open market.

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Tate is a nine-year veteran who’ll turn 31 years old right before the season, so this is likely to be the last contract he’ll receive. During his time with the Seahawks, Lions, and Eagles, Tate has been a stable presence in the lineup, playing at least 15 games in each of the last eight seasons. He is on the back-end of his career, but he’s now posted 1,000-plus yards in three of the last five seasons.

WHERE DOES HE PLAY?

During his time with the Lions and Eagles, Tate had been relegated to a slot-heavy role on most occasions, especially over the last two seasons. In 2018, he played 76.5 percent of his snaps in the slot, which ranked 12th-most in the league, and in 2017, he played 79.0 percent of his snaps in the slot, 13th-most in the league. It’s worth noting that during his last two seasons with the Seahawks, he played in the slot under 20 percent of the time, so it’s possible the Giants feel like he’s able to go back to that role.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, his new teammate Sterling Shepard has been a slot receiver his whole career, though Pat Shurmur did dial back his usage in the slot during his first year with the team. Shepard played 58.2 percent of his snaps in the slot, while Beckham was there 29.0 percent of the time, and Evan Engram 47.5 percent of the time. It’s possible to have multiple wide receivers in the slot on one play, but knowing that Engram is there half the time, it makes it very unlikely that we see Tate and Shepard post high percentages. Because of the change, let’s look at what Tate’s splits have been the last two years while in the slot and on the perimeter.

  Targets Rec Yards YPT TDs PPR Pts Points Per Target
In Slot 153 114 1265 8.27 8 288.5 1.89
On Perimeter 80 52 633 7.91 1 121.3 1.52

 

As you can see, Tate’s value is largely tied to the slot, especially when it comes to the red zone, as he’s caught just one touchdown on the perimeter the last two years on 80 targets. But should we assume that just because Tate’s been better in the slot that the Giants give him that role? What about Shepard? Let’s look at his splits.

  Targets Rec Yards YPT TDs PPR Pts Points Per Target
In Slot 221 151 1719 7.78 14 406.9 1.84
On Perimeter 75 37 567 7.56 0 93.7 1.25

 

You can make the argument that Shepard has been worse in the slot, as he’s yet to score a non-slot touchdown in his three-year career. His numbers are down across the board from Tate’s though part of that can be attributed to weaker quarterback play. The reason we did this exercise is that as you can see, the production for each of these slot-heavy wide receivers dips significantly when they’re asked to play outside.

TARGETS UP FOR GRABS

With Odell Beckham off to the Browns, there’s plenty of targets up for grabs. During their first season under Pat Shurmur, the Giants threw the ball 581 times. From my research that I do every year for What Do Coaching Changes Mean for Fantasy Football?, we typically see the pass attempts rise in the coming years. After the Beckham trade, the Giants GM Dave Gettleman came out and said they are going to run the ball and control the clock, which doesn’t bode well for the targets, but looking at it realistically, the Giants defense isn’t good enough to play that style game. We don’t have to assume there’s an increase in pass attempts, but there isn’t likely to be a significant decrease, no matter what Gettleman says.

Of the 581 pass attempts, 309 of them were directed at wide receivers, which is an unimpressive 53.2 percent target share. Keep in mind that was with Beckham on the roster and in the lineup for 12-of-16 games. Even with Beckham gone, that target share isn’t likely to dip very much, as 53.2 percent ranked 25th in the league, so there’s not much room to dip down. Keeping the targets around the 300 mark, there’s still plenty of targets to go around, as the starting trio is likely Tate, Shepard, and Corey Coleman, who saw just eight targets in 2018 despite being with the team for eight games, four of which were without Beckham. It’s very possible that we see both Shepard and Tate reach the 100-target mark, though if they’re splitting snaps in the slot, the efficiency isn’t likely to match their career numbers, which wasn’t otherworldly to begin with. In short, this is something to pay attention to as we go through the preseason.

2019 OUTLOOK

There’s nobody who knows how the Giants will deploy Tate and Shepard (outside of Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman), so right now it’s all speculation, but my guess would be that they share the middle of the field, with Tate getting more of those snaps. He’s the older wide receiver and that’s typically where aging wide receivers go because it’s much easier to gain separation matched with a safety or nickel cornerback. If Tate’s playing close to 60 percent of his snaps in the slot, he’s likely going to deliver low-end WR3-type numbers in PPR formats (similar to Shepard the last few seasons), but more of a WR4 in standard leagues. If they plan on keeping Shepard in the slot and using Tate in Beckham’s old role (roughly 30 percent slot usage), Tate is going to be a fantasy bust. We need to listen to beat reporters who are there for offseason workouts and training camp, as they’ll be the ones who tell us where Tate is lining up. For now, I’ll assume he plays roughly 60 percent of his snaps in the slot. My early 2019 projection: 108 targets, 69 receptions, 793 yards, 4 touchdowns


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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