One fantasy football situation that was ripe for mining in the preseason was the Lions receiving corps. The Lions bolstered their group this off-season to help compensate for losing Calvin Johnson. They brought in Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin to help Golden Tate carry the load for the Lions. The problem? They’re passing Golden Tate in production and given that Tate was the highest drafted of the three in most fantasy football drafts this offseason, which is a cause for worry.
Tate was easily the smartest option to replace Calvin Johnson’s production this season. When the Lions lost Megatron the last time, they turned to Tate, so it was easy to think that they would go this way this year with Calvin Johnson’s sudden retirement. Tate was the highest drafted Lions player, and most of that was on the latent hype of the 2014 campaign wherein the Lions lost Johnson for long stretches, and Tate was forced to be the #1 WR. Unfortunately for those who followed that path of thinking, the Lions didn’t have the receiving corps like they do now.
By adding Boldin and Jones to the mix and upping the offensive game plan for Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick, you have a recipe for a bust in Golden Tate. That is a recipe that is seemingly playing out in front of our eyes two games into the season. Tate is getting targets, but he’s not hauling them in. He’s learning opportunities, but not ones that will let him score. The simple fact of the matter is that Golden Tate was the WR1 before because he had to be. He’s not the WR1 now because he can’t be. The production that went Tate’s way in the past is being doled out among fellow wide receivers, among tight ends and even among running backs. Golden Tate is a great fill in at receiver, but he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. His anticipated production has been dispersed among the other receivers. He isn’t as dynamic as Jones, he isn’t as big as Ebron, he isn’t as shifty as Riddick, and he isn’t as sure-handed as Boldin. There’s nowhere for Tate to produce.
Tate and the Lions take on the Packers this weekend in a sure shootout, but even then, I don’t trust Tate will produce. His share of the offense has been doled out among everyone else, and there’s nothing left for Golden. Through two games this season, Tate has fewer targets than Marvin Jones, fewer touchdowns than Anquan Boldin, and fewer yards than Eric Ebron. Keep him on your bench for now and for the foreseeable future.