While no one likes to see a player go on the decline of their career arc, it is something that is inevitable with every athlete. A player like San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is certainly in the midst of his decline. At the age of 33, it is understandable that Gates is not the same player that he once was. However, by looking at his stats from the past few years, you might be thinking that I’m just crazy.
Last season, Gates finished the year ranked ninth among all tight ends in fantasy football and racked up 107 standard scoring fantasy points according to Pro Football Reference. Those numbers are pretty good for any player, let alone a 33-year-old. However, a deeper look into his statistics show that Gates is a different player than he once was.
In the 2013 season, Gates hauled in the most receptions since he had in 2009 and his amount of yardage stayed around what he’s been averaging over the past couple of seasons. The most important statistic in all this is the fact that Gates secured four touchdowns last year, which is his lowest output since his rookie season. Gates’ lack of a red-zone presence this year is enough of a sign to prove that he is slowing down.
While it is true that the tight end is not the player he once was, he is still worth taking in fantasy drafts. He probably won’t have another year in the top 10 for tight ends if he is going to keep steadily declining in his production. Even with all this talk of decline, Gates is still a serviceable tight end who is worth drafting. He will no longer be considered a sure fire TE1, however, fantasy owners should look at him a top end TE2 with a pair of sure veteran hands.