Auden Tate came into 2019 with little to no dynasty fantasy football fanfare. In fact, when you count A.J. Green along with Tyler Boyd and John Ross, he was the fourth most coveted wide receiver on the Cincinnati Bengals roster. Add in Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, and Tyler Eifert, and he likely entered the season the seventh most desirable dynasty asset on his own team.
If you read my earlier work this year on the fantasy football’s redraft waiver wire, you’ll be familiar with Tate from the not one, not two, but three times I mentioned him as a pickup. What do some of his best plays through 2019 tell us about his future as a dynasty asset?
This highlight grab in Week 6 is where most people started to wise up to Tate’s impressive play. This play does display a lot of Tate’s game, good and bad. The route could be cleaner, the break is rounded, and he catches a lot of contact from #26 Maurice Canady. Tate does a good job recovering from the bump and tracks the ball well, ending in the stretch for it. You could argue a sharper or more fluid break would have led to him catching the ball in stride. Andy Dalton has confidence in Tate, however, and he’s committed to the throw as Tate is getting ready for his break.
Tate’s only catch of the game, after a scary-looking injury just a week earlier, came on the first drive into the Bengals Week 12 contest against the Steelers. I wanted to highlight a play Tate made with rookie Ryan Finley, but the film just doesn’t pop in the same way. On a third and medium, Tate’s route takes him just past the sticks, where he quickly settles and provides Finley with a clear window to make the conversion.
Here Auden Tate displays a valuable asset dynasty players typically hear about RBs, balance through contact. Tate runs a 7-yard curl, and while Jets CB #31 Blessaun Austin makes an awkward play at first, he immediately tries to punch the ball out before it is completely secured. Tate quickly fights this off to secure the ball into his right arm and keeps his legs moving to get past the attempt to trip him up.
Tate has 4 inches and about 25 pounds on Austin, and though this isn’t a basketball-style post up to beat him for a 50/50 ball, it’s a sight seen on a lot of Tate’s film. He knows how to use his body to make plays that his defender simply cannot do.
There are concerns with Tate’s game from an efficiency standpoint. I am right now of the belief that the Bengals are poised to become a much better football team over the next two to three years. Tate’s growth will be an important factor in that.
The Bengals will almost certainly be in the market for a new QB, and if A.J. Green doesn’t return like most assume he won’t, Tate could find himself as the Bengals big-bodied man in the WR room. He’s a guy I’ll be looking to acquire in the offseason, but I wouldn’t be willing to pay more than a late second-round pick.
With the state of the Bengals as it is, I assume there will be sellers looking to move away from an offense still trying to find itself. Like anyone in this situation, there will also be many fantasy football players looking to acquire an unknown part of an offense that can be spun as being on the rise.
Tate’s dynasty ceiling for his career is likely as a WR3. His impressive catch radius will lead to plays that are highlighted on SportsCenter and Twitter alike. Still, right now the tape shows that he just doesn’t possess the speed or finesse to completely take over a game.
Andrew Thomas Jordan is an editor and analyst for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @The_ATJ on Twitter.