It was only a couple of years that San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates was the top tight end off the board in every fantasy football draft. He made a habit of racking up touchdowns (87 career TDs) and the veteran has produced more like a receiver throughout his career. Unfortunately, that was a different time, and Gates was a different tight end.
Gates will always be the number one check down target for QB Philip Rivers to look for over the middle, and as long as the duo are still in San Diego, they will continue to have an uncanny rapport. A tight end can be a quarterback’s best friend and it is clear the Gates has the other side of the quarterback’s BFF necklace.
Despite the overall drop in production, Gates still led all San Diego players in receptions (77), targets (116), and was second in receiving yardage (872). The veteran has entrenched himself in the passing game and Gates will should continue to receive the proper amount of targets as long as he is healthy.
After hauling in at least seven touchdowns in nine straight seasons, Gates hauled in just four touchdowns last season. It was an utter let down and completely ruined the tight end’s fantasy value down the stretch. After all, a tight that doesn’t score is pretty useless from a fantasy standpoint.
Additionally, Gates will be 34 years old when the season kicks off. Injuries have really started to catch up with the veteran in recent fantasy campaigns and the perennial Pro Bowler has even started losing targets to fellow tight end Ladarius Green. Gates doesn’t have many years left and it appears San Diego is already thinking about their future, so this could be the year the team slowly phases Gates out of the offense.
Gates isn’t the guaranteed fantasy option that he was five years ago. He is an emergency option and is only worth grabbing if the top-10 options are well off the board. The position has become increasingly deep recently, so it would be better to go with a younger option this summer and grab Gates as a backup.
Bye Week: 10
Projected Round: 13
Auction Value: $2