NFL Fantasy Free Agency: Golden Tate set to become a Giant bust
Once upon a time, Golden Tate was a reliable Fantasy starter. But that was before he landed on his third team in six months -- and with a downgrade at quarterback.
Then again, the Giants just traded Beckham, so who knows what they're thinking?!
Tate is coming off his worst season since 2011, but it's not entirely his fault. He spent the first seven weeks of the season with the Lions, where he manned the slot most of the time and was on pace for a 101-catch, 1,182-yard, seven-score season. But knowing they had no intention of re-signing him, the Lions traded him mid-season to the Eagles, where he was miscast in Philadelphia's offense and scored twice in 10 games including the playoffs. He had one game with more than 50 yards with the Eagles.
Somehow, the Giants saw these results and thought it merited a contract that includes over $20 million in guarantees. It's a nice payday for the veteran, who will be 31 when the season starts, but it's confounding to figure how he'll contribute for the Giants. Tate's made his mark by producing from the slot, which is pretty darn similar to how Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has played since entering the NFL.
The best guess is that Tate's arrival signals what many figured already: The Giants are building a conservative, run-focused offense that will feature receivers who can make plays after short- and mid-range receptions. They won't challenge downfield much, and they can try creating problems by working at an up-tempo pace.
In other words, an offense tailored to 38-year-old Eli Manning. Hooray.
Truth is, Tate should see a nice dose of targets with the G-Men, but what he produces with them isn't expected to delight. Of the 347 receptions Tate's made since 2015, only 39 have been for more than 20 yards and only 10 were for more than 40 yards. He has great hands but can't be trusted for big yardage unless his target share is really overwhelming. That's not bound to happen in this Manning-led iteration of the Giants offense.
And because New York likely will find itself in low-scoring games highlighted by Saquon Barkley touchdowns, it's tough to envision Tate exceeding his career-high of seven touchdowns, which he notched with the Seahawks in 2012.
So what's the upshot in drafting Tate? In non-PPR leagues, there's nothing to be excited about. At least in PPR his catches can add up — maybe he can come through with as many as six catches with 40 or 50 yards to give some safety-net stats on a week-by-week basis.
And for those kinds of numbers, Fantasy managers shouldn't reach for him. They might even want to ignore him. Bank on someone else drafting him hoping for pre-2018 results. He shouldn't be taken until Round 9 at the earliest in PPR and Round 10-plus in non-PPR.
His arrival also hurts the chances of Shepard breaking out. These two figure to rotate in and out of the slot, but Tate's been better than Shepard. We already figured tight end Evan Engram would be the top target-getter on the team, so this acquisition pushes Shepard to third in the pecking order. He's barely draftable.
Speaking of Engram, does Tate's arrival take anything off his plate? It does, but not in the same way it will Shepard. Engram's target share still figures to rise, particularly to a point where he'll be valuable given the scarce nature of quality producing tight ends. Maybe he has fewer five- and six-catch games with Tate on board, but his size and speed combination makes him the most exciting option in the Giants passing "attack." He's still a late Round 5/early Round 6 candidate, which is where he wound up following the Beckham trade.
Ultimately, choosing any Giants receiver or tight end is placing a bet on Eli Manning rebounding in 2019. That's not something a lot of Fantasy folks will care to do.
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