The first major offensive splash of the 2014 NFL free agency season seems to be flying under the radar. Former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate has been signed by the Detroit Lions. Tate will now spend his Sundays lining up opposite fantasy football mega-star Calvin Johnson.
Fellow fantasy participants and gurus lend me your ears. Of the available free agent wide receivers, Tate will have the biggest fantasy football impact in 2014.
The Lions and Johnson finally get what they have desperately needed for several years, a reliable and dependable No. 2 receiver. I understand they had Nate Burleson and Titus Young on their roster during the second wide out drought, but one couldn’t stay healthy and the other couldn’t stay out of trouble (or jail, or the headlines, etc.).
Listen to this stat. In 2013 Matt Stafford threw the ball 634 times. In case you’re wondering that equates to just under 40 attempts per game. In that plethora of passing attempts last season, the Lions’ second wide out ranked fifth on the team with 39 catches. Folks, it’s not that Stafford doesn’t look the way of his second receiver — he doesn’t have one. He does now.
I will agree that Tate’s numbers do not jump off the stat sheet. Why would they? He has played his entire career on a run first old school football team that makes its living smothering opposing offenses while controlling time of possession.
But there are some stats that do tell you something about Tate. He is durable. Since joining the league in 2010 the guy is a mainstay in the starting lineup. He also seems to have a knack at finding the end zone. Maybe most important, Tate has top-notch character and he will be a leader in the Lions’ locker room.
The above qualities are certainly positive, but let’s be honest, in the Lions offense if you can simply stay healthy and run routs you are going to see plenty targets from Stafford.
At the end of the day, most will shy away from Tate in next year’s fantasy drafts. They will shy from him because of the times they drafted him with high expectations only to be disappointed each season. That means you can grab him in a wide receiver three or four position of the draft and expect wide receiver two type production.
You can draft him with high expectations and those expectations will not be met with disappointment this season.
Tate fits all the underdog molds. He is a dark horse, he is a sleeper and when the dust settles at the end of the 2014 fantasy football season he will be remembered as a PPR machine – count on it.