Tate caught two of three targets for 34 yards in Saturday's preseason game against the Jets.
On one of his catches, Tate masterfully found a soft spot in the Jets coverage and used precise footwork to stay inbounds and haul in a pass from QB Matthew Stafford along the right sideline. Though he lined up out wide opposite Marvin Jones on that particular play, Tate moved to the slot during the four snaps Kenny Golladay took with the first-team offense -- which is a formation that could become the norm in the near future. While it appears the Lions are content rolling with Tate, Marvin Jones and TJ Jones as their top three wideouts for now, it shouldn't be long until Golladay overtakes TJ Jones for a spot in the starting lineup. When that inevitably happens, Tate would likely become a full-time slot player. He could see increased volume in that role, but Tate would figure to serve as more of a possession receiver and could see his YPC take a hit.
Tate figures to get more work from the slot than he did last season, ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein reports.
Tate ran 367 routes from the slot in 2014 and 363 in 2015, but the number dropped to 165 last season because Anquan Boldin was the Lions' No. 3 receiver. Rookie third-round pick Kenny Golladay is the favorite to replace Boldin and likely will get most of his snaps outside, freeing up Tate to regularly handle slot work in three-wide formations. It's a positive development for the veteran wideout's fantasy prospects, as he'll still get most of the snaps across from Marvin Jones when the Lions only have two receivers on the field. Tate has long been effective from the slot, where his quickness and elusiveness allow him to catch a high percentage of targets and turn some of those into sizable gains.
Tate has been a bargain through the first three seasons of his five-year, $31 million contract, playing all 16 games each year and averaging 93 catches for 1,074 yards and 4.7 touchdowns on 135 targets. He probably won't make any real noise about the contract until next offseason, but the Lions could get out ahead of the issue and offer him an extension this summer or fall. Tate will turn 29 in August and is a clear favorite to lead the Lions in targets this season.
Tate caught three of five targets for 25 yards during Saturday's postseason loss in Seattle.
Playing the team that drafted him, Tate failed to make much of an impact as the entire Lions offense had trouble getting in sync. However, this lack of production doesn't come as a huge surprise considering the Seahawks have been shutting down opposing receivers all season. The former second-rounder will now enter the offseason having topped the 1,000-yard receiving threshold for the second time in three years with Detroit while having not seen less than 128 targets in any single campaign, a level of usage hard to ignore in PPR formats.
Although Lions QB Matthew Stafford distributed the ball more evenly than usual, Tate still paced the team in targets. However, despite Sunday marking the fourth time in the past five games he's garnered double-digit looks in the passing game, Tate will likely find tougher sledding in the first round of the playoffs when the Lions travel to Seattle to take on a Seahawks secondary that has allowed the eighth-least passing yards per game this season.
|P4||8/31/17||@ BUF||7:00 pm|
|2||9/18/17||@ NYG||8:30 pm|
|4||10/1/17||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 7|
|9||11/6/17||@ GB||8:30 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|14||12/10/17||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ CIN||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|