Calvin Johnson is the highest paid receiver in the NFL. Once upon a time, he was also the undisputable best receiver in the NFL. Megatron is still a force to be reckoned with, and even after the down year he will still be a top ten wide receiver in 2015. His big play ability is rivaled by few in the league, and he should never be underestimated. With all that said, Calvin Johnson is slowly becoming one of those players who get drafted by reputation, regardless downward trend. This season, just like last season, I expect Golden Tate to finish better than Calvin Johnson. Did you forget that Golden Tate finished as the WR12 and Calvin Johnson finished as the WR15, 30 points shy of Tate?
I know Calvin Johnson missed time last season. In fact, in 2014 Johnson appeared in the fewest games of his career, lining up for just 13 fantasy weeks. He was hobbled by injury and frustrated fantasy owners when he played decoy in more games than we care to remember. If Calvin Johnson played healthy in all 16 games last season he obviously would have finished ahead of Golden Tate, maybe even top ten. The biggest difference between the two is that Calvin Johnson is trending down, where Golden Tate is trending up. Take a look at both players past three seasons.
Numbers can be taken for what they are but factors must also be considered. Golden Tate scored more touchdowns with Russell Wilson, but he was far less a factor in that run heavy offense. In his first season with Matthew Stafford under center, Tate saw his breakout in receptions and yards, but his touchdown total was a downward trend from his time in Seattle. In year two with Stafford, that touchdown total should go up and I predict Tate to have the most touchdowns of his career in 2015.
In regards to Calvin Johnson, his injuries impacting his games played may spell the beginning of the older wide out’s body slowly breaking down on him. This year will be Johnson’s ninth season to Tate’s sixth, giving him three more seasons of football wear and tear. Johnson is a big bodied receiver who is physical and that takes its toll. He will turn 30 during the first month of football, making him officially “old” in terms of football. Tate will be 27, and is reaching his prime.
Another thing we will need to consider is Calvin Johnson’s reputation. This generally means that defenses plan around him and direct a lot of their attention his way. This opens the game up for Golden Tate. He averaged 13.4 yards per receptions last season, and turned in five 100 yards games. Tate is more than capable of not only carrying the WR1 load, but also putting up WR1 numbers. Matthew Stafford can be wildly inconsistent at times, but he loves to throw the ball. Last season, the Detroit Lions ranked 12th in passing yards and 28th in rush yards. This is a passing team, and this team has two WR1’s on the roster.
Reggie Bush is gone, Theo Riddick proved himself fantasy worthy in PPR formats and Joique Bell is the RB1 but he is another veteran who is slowly tearing apart at the seams. The Lions upgraded at running back in drafting Ameer Abdullah, but even if the rookie comes on strong, he is not going to completely shift the offensive philosophy the Lions display in being a pass heavy team. The time is now for Matthew Stafford to improve on his accuracy, throw more touchdowns, and throw fewer interceptions. Even with a healthy Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate will finish 2015 as the WR1 in Detroit (again).