For the second year in a row, Howie Roseman has made a trade to strengthen the Philadelphia Eagles offense. Last season it was Jay Ajayi, and today it’s Golden Tate. After finishing 3rd in points per game in 2017 with 28.6, the Eagles offense has stumbled to 21st in the league this season scoring 22.3 points per game. The addition of Tate will impact the Eagles and Lions rosters deeply. More importantly, this will have widespread ripples across the fantasy landscape. Let’s take a look at some of the effects of this trade.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 30, 2018
Golden Tate is currently the WR17 (per game) on the season, but he’s been inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Tate has just two WR1 weeks and one WR2 week to his name this year. This can be partly attributed to the weekly fluctuation in targets Tate has seen in 2018. Tate averages 9.9 targets per game, but that is misleading. In Weeks 1, 2, and 8 Tate saw more than 12 targets, but in the other four weeks, Tate had 8 or fewer targets.
Through nine weeks the Eagles rank 10th in the league with 38.5 pass attempts per game compared to the Lions 37 attempts per game. This gives the appearance that both teams are pass-first offenses. Looking a little deeper reveals that the Lions are moving toward being a more run-balanced offense that likes to slow the pace of the game. Running just 62 offensive plays per game, the Lions rank 21st in the league for the season. Over the previous three games, they have slowed the game pace to an absolute crawl with just 57 plays per game.
It’s not simply that the Lions are slowing the game pace, they also dialing back their passing attack dramatically. The Lions have two games this season with over 50 pass attempts. In their other five games this year the Lions have averaged just 30.8 attempts per game. The last three weeks have seen the Lions scale back the pass attempts even further with 29.3 passes a game, 7th least in the league over that span.
Carson Wentz has played six games so far this season and attempted at least 30 passes per game in each. Even excluding the Week 4 game against Tennessee when he attempted 50 passes, Wentz has averaged 35.2 attempts per game in his other five games played. The Eagles rushing attack could be described as anemic at best, if you feel like being generous, which means the Eagles will continue to need to rely on Wentz’s arm for wins. Based on this season’s passing, and given that Wentz averaged 33.8 passes per game in 2017, it’s clear that Tate is moving to a more pass-heavy offense compared to the one he’s leaving behind in Detroit.
Tate will face stiffer competition for targets in Philadelphia. Zach Ertz (10.5) and Alshon Jeffery (8.8) average 19.3 targets per game compared to the 13 targets a game that Marvin Jones (6.7) and Kenny Golladay (6.3) have averaged. It’s doubtful that Tate will step on the field in week 10 and take a significant chunk of work from Ertz and Jeffery considering the rapport Wentz has built with both players. But on a team that’s had to target Jordan Matthews, Joshua Perkins, and Kamar Aiken, among others, there are targets to be had.
Of the primary receivers on the roster, I expect Tate to steal some if not most of the targets that Nelson Agholor has been receiving. The long-term impact this trade has on Tate’s fantasy value is non-existent. Tate will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. The Eagles are already over the 2019 salary cap, so there’s little chance this is more than a 1/2 season rental. I’m comfortable trading a 2019 2nd round rookie pick if I’m a contender to add Tate to my roster.
After Nelson Agholor‘s year -hree breakout hopes were high for him coming into 2018. Agholor entered the season as the de facto #1 wide receiver for the Eagles with Alshon Jeffery recovering from shoulder surgery. Agholor underachieved for both the Eagles and in fantasy in his three weeks playing without Jeffery. His 16 receptions over those three weeks were respectable. But he only turned those catches into 117 yards, for a God-awful 7.3 yards per catch. Agholor has increased his yards per reception to 9.1 on the season, which is better, but still falls outside of the top 100 for YPR.
Of more immediate concern for Agholor and his fantasy stock is what the addition of Golden Tate means for 2018 and beyond. Both players predominantly run their routes out of the slot, 55.6% for Agholor and 67.8% for Tate. It’s not just the fact that they both are slot receivers. As noted by Benjamin Solak in the tweets below, Agholor has been used similarly to Tate this season.
Tate was used by Detroit quite similarly to how Philadelphia has used Agholor thus far this season. Jet sweep is a great example. Detroit loves to motion Tate into match-ups; but that's what Philly does with Nelly a lot. V. curious to see how they use both. pic.twitter.com/keOfPpXfhK
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) October 30, 2018
While he’s been used similarly, the results have not been similar. Tate is a beast with the ball in his hands after the catch while Agholor is not. Through week 9 Tate averages 6.52 yards after the catch per reception this season, nearly a yard and a half more than Agholor’s 5.17 yards. Tate has just three more receptions than Agholor, 44 to 41, but 145 more receiving yards. In fantasy, it’s a rout with Tate averaging 16.8 points per game compared to Agholor’s 10.3 fantasy points per game. While it’s possible that Agholor can hurt Tate’s fantasy value the rest of the season, it’s guaranteed that Tate will end Agholor’s fantasy relevancy the rest of the season.
Agholor’s dynasty value has to be questioned. If the Eagles were thrilled, or even content with the way Agholor has performed his impression of Tate this year they wouldn’t have given up a 2019 3rd round pick to add the real thing to their wide receiver room. Agholor has struggled with self-confidence in the past, specifically in his 2nd season, and it visible hindered his performance. He still has one more season on his rookie contract, but it should be noted the Eagles could cut him Agholor with no dead cap while saving $9.3 million. Agholor showed in 2017 that he has the talent to be a fantasy asset, but with his current outlook I’d give up no more than a 2019 3rd rookie pick for him.
Tate’s departure leaves a significant target share, 27.1% to be exact, for the remaining Detroit wide receivers to absorb. With some luck maybe the Detroit Lions offensive coaching staff will stumble across Warren Sharp’s tweet pointing out the success of their offense when running two wide receiver sets. Because if T.J. Jones sees a significant target bump due to this trade I will lose my mind.
I hope the Golden Tate trade dramatically shifts the Lions offense to more 2 WR sets rather than the inefficient 3-4 WR sets they've been using:
• 3 WRs: 48% success, 7.1 YPA, 94 rtg
• 2 WRs: 66% success, 7.8 YPA, 128 rtg
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 30, 2018
Assuming the T.J. Jones breakout doesn’t become a thing, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay will be the players who gain the most fantasy value. If you’re looking for a deep dynasty stash (and who isn’t?), pick up Brandon Powell. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press Powell will replace Golden Tate as the Lions slot receiver.
Marvin Jones has scored at roughly the clip he did last season, 14.1 per game in 2017 vs. 13.5 per game this season. He’s also seen the exact same 6.7 targets per game in both seasons. The biggest difference is the increased wide receiver scoring has Jones sitting at WR31 this season after a WR13 finish last year. Averaging 14.9 yards per reception Jones doesn’t need a big increase in targets to increase his fantasy scoring. The range of outcomes for Jones for the rest of the season span a low-end WR1/high-end WR3. Jones is signed through 2020, though the Lions do have an out after this season. It was also reported that Jones restructured his contract on Tuesday, but details were still pending at this time. If contending I’d be willing to part with my 2019 1st round rookie pick for him.
After starting the season with three consecutive top 21 wide receiver finishes Kenny Golladay has become a forgotten man the last month. The first three weeks of this year Golladay accounted for 28 targets but had just 16 targets the next four weeks combined. All three of the Lions receivers, Marvin Jones, Tate, and Golladay saw their targets decrease and vary on a week to week basis as the Lions have committed to the run game. Eliminating Tate from the equation should provide more week to week consistency for both Golladay and Jones.
Golladay has shown in the past that if he receives the targets, he will produce. Just get Golladay six targets a week, not an absurd number by any stretch, and he will produce. He’s scored 17.68 fantasy points per game on average when targeted six or more times in his career, which would be good enough for WR15 this season.
Humans that are 6’4″ and 218 pounds are not supposed to run a 4.50 40-yard dash, but Golladay does. “Babytron” (courtesy of @LateRoundQB) is a physical freak of nature, who dominated at the collegiate level and has produced when given the opportunity in the NFL. I was already all-in on Golladay before Tate was traded to the Eagles, shipping a 2019 1st rounder off to acquire him four weeks ago, now I’m whatever is beyond all-in. I’d be willing to give up a 2019 1st + to acquire Golladay now.