Fantasy Football Today

How Golden Tate helps Matthew Stafford

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst

Sure-handed Golden Tate joins a team prone to the drops. (USATSI)
Sure-handed Golden Tate joins a team prone to the drops. (USATSI)

Matthew Stafford must clean up his fundamentals to fulfill his elite Fantasy potential. But his teammates can do a much better job of helping him out.

The Lions led the league with a whopping 58 drops last year. That's partly why Stafford ranked 30th in completion percentage (58.5).

Every Stafford owner remembers the Fantasy playoffs. In Week 15 against the Ravens, Calvin Johnson dropped two routine throws. On the first, a 3rd-and-15 in the first quarter, Johnson was wide open over the middle and had one defender between him and the end zone. Johnson ended up with six catches for 98 yards -- just missing the 100-yard bonus -- and no scores.

Johnson played with a mangled finger last year; he got it fixed and reportedly looks like his old self. Golden Tate's arrival is just as significant. He has some of the best hands in the NFL.

In four seasons in Seattle, Tate dropped six throws while being targeted 279 times, per Pro Football Focus.

Instead of throwing to Kris Durham (10 drops last year) and Nate Burleson (four drops on 51 targets), Stafford will be targeting the sure-handed Tate and a healthy Megatron (10 drops last year).

Butterfingers tight end Brandon Pettigrew (four drops) returns; rookie Eric Ebron also has inconsistent hands. And Stafford needs to get in better sync with his running backs. Reggie Bush had 10 drops on 76 targets last year, while Joique Bell dropped six of 64. Bush simply can't be that bad again.

Stafford eclipsed 20 Fantasy points 10 times last year despite his receivers' problems. With Tate in the fold and a little more help from his returning weapons, Stafford's arrow is pointing way up. Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard says Stafford should return to the monster numbers he posted in 2011 and deliver "elite" production as a Round 4 pick.

Stafford finished seventh among quarterbacks last season, 11th in 2012 and fourth in 2011 with 412 Fantasy points. Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank Stafford fourth this year.

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