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Player Spotlight: Golden Tate

A detailed look at Golden Tate's fantasy prospects for 2015

Golden Tate has improved season-on-season each year that he's been a pro wide receiver, and he will only be 27 years old when the regular season kicks off in September. Entering his second year in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's attack, Tate should be even more comfortable working in tandem with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and company than he was during his career-best 2014 season (144 targets for 99/1,331/4 receiving). In short, Tate is entering the prime years of his professional football career, and he should continue to shine as the "other" starting wide receiver across from Johnson in Detroit.

Those expecting a significant regression in Tate's numbers during 2015 may be surprised at season's end, as Tate has the magic elixir of talent, good health, and opportunity which combine to make him a key weapon within the Lions' passing attack and a top-notch fantasy prospect. He was #13 among all wide receivers in fantasy scoring last year, and has been among the top-30 fantasy wideouts for three straight seasons dating back to his final two campaigns in Seattle.

First of all,consider that the early word out of Detroit is that they are once again going to ask Matthew Stafford to air it out with the football, after casting him as a conservative game-manager during his first season in Lombardi's system. On April 2, 2015 coach Lombardi stated "I thought that he played smart football (last year), and sometimes to a fault. We'll look to him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football. He's got the arm to do it and he's got the receivers to throw it to." Stafford threw 602 passes last year, the least number of attempts he's put up over the last four seasons, after tossing a high of 727 attempts back in 2012. Clearly, there is ample room for Stafford to attempt more passes during 2015, and the increased volume should benefit Tate along with Johnson and the other targets in Detroit. Tate may well have MORE than 144 targets this year, not less.

Second, Calvin Johnson remains one of the most-feared wide receivers in the NFL, though some nagging injuries have hampered him over the last two seasons. As long as Johnson is healthy enough to play, Tate will be a secondary concern for opposing defenders, allowing Tate to benefit from facing single-coverage for long stretches of upcoming contests. Johnson didn't need offseason surgery this year (unlike 2014 when he had finger and ankle surgeries prior to the campaign), and that bodes well for him to return as a 16-game starter during 2015. In short, Tate should have a level of coverage similar to what he faced during 2014 (and against which Tate thrived).

Third, as noted above, Tate has improved his performance in each of the past five seasons, going from 21 receptions for 227 yards and zero TDs as a rookie to 45/688/7 in his third NFL season, and then last year's 99-reception breakout during his fifth year in the league. Tate is now a seasoned pro and isn't showing any signs of regressing as a receiver, and he's only missed one regular-season game over the past four seasons (during 2012). Tate is a model of consistency who caught 68.75% of the passes that came his way during 2014, his highest reception percentage (so far) during his career. All signs point up for Tate entering 2015.

PositiveS

  • The Lions are set to throw the ball more during 2015, which should ensure a continued high volume of targets for Tate
  • Tate has improved each season so far in the NFL, and is just now entering the prime of his professional career
  • Tate's role as the starter across from Johnson is secure - there are no clear-and-present threats to his role lower on the depth chart
  • Tate enjoys excellent health, and is still young enough to rebound from nicks and dings that might become a nagging injury for an older player

NegativeS

  • Tight end Eric Ebron is entering his sophomore season as a Lion, and may siphon off some looks from Tate
  • Dan Orlovsky is Matthew Stafford's backup at quarterback - the Lions are thin on talent behind Stafford which is a worry for fantasy owners

Final ThoughtS

Tate has become a fine professional wide receiver and is entering his best years in the league. He should help Stafford and company menace opposing defenses with one of the elite passing attacks in the NFL during 2015. Footballguy's Bob Henry projects Tate to post 88/1,140/5 receiving during 2015.

Mark Wimer'S Projections

  • 150 Targets
  • 95 Receptions
  • 1,250 Yards Receiving
  • Five TD receptions