Golden Tate to Eagles: Lions Outlook

Detroit Lions
Eduardo Miceli

With the NFL trade deadline behind us, there’s one transaction that has a huge ripple effect: Golden Tate’s trade to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The former Seahawk has been one of the most reliable weapons for the Detroit Lions and a staple of Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. Tate is hard to tackle, has safe hands and an outstanding ability to gain yards after the catch. Between 2014 and 2018, the slot receiver was always a threat in short spaces and a target magnet that helped Matthew Stafford move the chains in the passing.

Now that he’s gone, there is a huge volume vacancy in this offense, and that’s good for the other skill players and Fantasy managers that have them on their rosters.

Tate’s Vacancy

Before discussing how Tate’s departure affects Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay, we need to establish his role in this offense.

Golden Tate was predominantly in the short passing game. His ability to gain yards after the catch was deeply explored by Stafford and Jim Bob Cooter. In 2018, Tate’s average depth of target is 6.1 yards; his average yards after reception this season for the Lions was 6.3. He’s a playmaker with a ball in his hands – he had a monster share of targets in this offense, with 26.7% of targets going his way.┬áThis huge share is now up for grabs, and the first beneficiary is Kerryon Johnson.

Kerryon Johnson

The rookie running back has proved himself as a reliable weapon in the passing game for the past two weeks, the two games without Theo Riddick. Against the Seattle Seahawks, he had 6 receptions in 8 targets for 69 yards, with a drop rate of 0%. These two weeks don’t simply show us that Kerryon Johnson can ‘fill a role’ as a receiving back; he’s a legit three-down back.

That being said, Johnson may inherit some of Tate’s volume, especially if Riddick’s remains absent. The rookie has average 8,9 yards after that catch, and that’s encouraging for his Fantasy production – he gains a huge bump in PPR. The former Tiger has the skill set to be featured heavily in the passing game, and if Jim Bob Cooter’s gets creative, he might even feature him as a slot receiver in clear passing situations.

Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay

Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are also on Golden Tate’s list of target heirs. However, both Jones and Golladay are targeted way deeper (15.5 and 11 are their average depth per target, respectively). It’s not reasonable to expect one of them to fully convert to a slot receiver, but there’s some tinkering to do in the hands of the offensive coordinator.

We will probably see more of Jones aligning closer to the formation, in reduced splits or numbers splits. This way, you maintain the threat of him releasing outside and brings the threat of him attacking the middle of the field, as we’ve seen a couple of times against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8 – and also without the hindrance of the sideline to limit him.

Kenny Golladay’s size and versatility will also come handy in this new Detroit Lions offense. While it’s reasonable to expect him to line up as a typical X receiver, Golladay has the skill set to alternate roles with Marvin Jones and use his size to create mismatches against defenders.

Fantasy Football Implications

For Fantasy Football, both Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay gain a huge bump in value now that Golden Tate’s gone. Their average depth of target will probably decrease since the Lions offense will need them to be more present in shorter areas of the field, but their target share will definitely increase, which is great in PPR formats. Another winner in the receiving corp is T.J. Jones, who had great moments in this offense in 2017, especially against the Falcons, the Steelers, and the Bears. Without Tate, Jones should see more than 16% of snaps he’s seen this season.

Even though Golden Tate is no longer with the Lions, he still has a huge Fantasy Football impact on his (now) former teammates. The second half of the season for Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay looks bright.




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