@JoeWarrenFF investigates Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, Auden Tate, with his first Fantasy Football profile of the offseason. What can we expect in 2021, and what is the upside of Auden Tate?
Fantasy football is upon us once more, and this is my favorite part of it. Finding hidden gems that can produce for your team in 2021. Auden Tate is one of these players who is basically free that you can pick up for your team right now. I want to point out that free agency has only just begun, and people can find themselves on the outside looking in quickly. Tate is an excellent pick-up for fantasy teams based on cost vs. perceived upside.
Upside To Auden Tate in 2021
AJ Green and John Ross have left via free agency (Arizona and New York, respectively), which leaves Tate as the de facto number 3 receiver on the depth chart. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd have a more straightforward path to regular targets. However, Tate has already shown what he can do in a limited sample size, giving confidence for what he can produce if given an uptick in snap % in 2021.
One cause for worry is Tate had surgery three months ago for a torn labrum. The estimated recovery time is 4-6 months, so we will not see or hear much of Tate until after the 2021 NFL draft. Could this mean Cincinnati draft someone to take over the number three receiver role? Maybe. But, The Bengals have more pressing needs, the offensive line as their guaranteed number one priority. They hold three picks in the top 100 (#5, #37, #69), and Tate has shown enough to me that I doubt they’d use one of those three picks on a receiver. The fourth round is where I can see them targeting one, but there is no need to jump off the Tate bandwagon because of a fourth-round rookie.
As mentioned, Tate was injured for a lot of 2020. This was a shame, as we could not as much of Tate as we would like. However, we saw some flashes. No touchdowns in 2020, but a seven-target, seven-catch game against Tennessee in week 8 was a glimpse of his ability. 2019 was a much better precursor to what we could expect in 2021. Injuries to numerous receivers atop of the depth chart meant Tate was thrust into a starting role. He had a ten-game streak of +80% of the snaps. Averaging 7.4 targets per game, Tate put up 9.89 fantasy points per game. It was pretty good, considering it was Andy Dalton throwing him the ball.
The 2020 season was the first season for quarterback Joe Burrow. In the games he played before his injury, he averaged 40.4 passing attempts per game, along with 268.8 yards and 1.3 touchdowns. Tyler Boyd (7.85 targets per game) and Tee Higgins (7.14 TPG) took a big chunk of Burrow’s passing volume. But there is a clear path for Auden Tate to hold his own as a starter in that offense.
What Does Everyone Else Think?
Firstly, Burrow and Tate are working out together in the offseason. No, this does not guarantee production. However, it does show Burrow and Tate are building a relationship, and chemistry is vital for on-field production.
Secondly, look back to last preseason. Tate showed out in camp, and I expect much of the same this year. Unfortunately, the offseason MVP hype did not translate as much as we may have hoped. However, last year, they paid Green an excessive amount of money on the franchise tag, so they were somewhat forced to utilize him.
Although Green is one of the best receivers to wear the orange and black stripes, the year is 2021, and we are playing fantasy football. We want to see younger players with upside produce, and there is no better opportunity for Tate than now.
I would not be surprised to see the Bengals bring in a receiver in free agency, but the chemistry with Burrow and years in the organization can not be ignored. Tate has produced when thrust into a starting role after being a seventh-round pick out of Florida State in 2018.
The Cincinnati offense has the volume to allow for fantasy production out of its top three receivers, and that is precisely what I expect in 2021. No, there is no guarantee that Tate keeps the starting role heading into the offseason. However, I expect a strong camp will once again boost his stock. Get him now while you can; he is borderline free.