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Week 1 vs. OAK
Receiving: 5 / 83 / 0 on 9 targets
Gates clearly has his burst and explosiveness back after being hampered with a toe injury last year. He was a great downfield target all night, and he took advantage of soft spots in the deep middle of the Raiders defense. With the Chargers looking like a passing team, he should continue to occupy his typical place in the top 3 fantasy TEs. Gates will get plenty of targets, and he looks like he's in great condition to maximize their value.
Week 2 vs. BAL
Receiving: 5 / 78 / 0 on 7 targets
Antonio Gates was very involved in the gameplan, coming up with a long reception down the seam in the first half and a big fourth down grab later in the half. On the long reception, he fumbled as he was hit from behind when he tried making a move to get to the end zone, but it was recovered by the Chargers. He was later targeted in the end zone in the fourth quarter, but the pass was thrown too high and sailed over his head for an incompletion.
Week 3 vs. MIA
Receiving: 5 / 64 / 0 on 7 targets
Gates had a solid game, but he appears to be settling into his role as the number two option in the passing game for this team (with Vincent Jackson having ascended to number one status). He showed good hands on a catch over the middle and made a key third down grab over the middle with about ten minutes to play to keep the chains moving, but he never really came close to scoring or breaking any huge plays.
Week 4 vs. PIT
Receiving: 9 / 124 / 2 on 12 targets
San Diego's offense (and Philip Rivers production for the most part) went as Antonio Gates did on Sunday night. When he was double covered SD's offense sputtered and was largely ineffective. When he was able to get open under less coverage Gates simply ate up the Steelers defense over the middle. Overall he had a huge night catching 9 passes and 2 TD's. Gates was quiet in the 1st half as he was focused on heavily by the Pitt def and was rarely open. In the 2nd half, Gates was able to break loose on a couple of nice catches, one of which was a leaping play in traffic where Rivers put the ball where only Gates could have gotten it. His strong 2nd half flurry was capped by a short TD catch late in the 3rd and then a tremendous effort on a 30 yd TD catch in the 4th in which Gates eluded several defenders and ran threw a couple more on his way to the end zone. On the next drive, Gates continued to be targeted often by Rivers catching a short pass in traffic and then drawing a long pass interference penalty exploiting down field coverage by James Harrison which setup the final San Diego TD. Easily the best game of the season thus far for the Pro-Bowl TE, he remains one of the best TE options in fantasy football today.
Week 6 vs. DEN
Receiving: 5 / 70 / 0 on 9 targets
Gates was working the underneath routes for the Chargers, and did a nice job of getting open on jerk routes throughout the game. He even hauled in a jump pass from Philip Rivers over the middle of the defense which put the Chargers inside the Broncos 10-yard line. The Chargers were trying to exploit the Broncos linebackers in coverage, and early on they were having success. As the game wore on, the Denver pass rush was simply too much for the Chargers to handle and the coverage on Gates was much tighter.
Week 7 vs. KC
Receiving: 5 / 55 / 0 on 6 targets
Gates came on strong early, but like most of the team, he didn't do as much after halftime. He took a short screen off play action and took it 25 yards down to the two yard line. He showed nice moves and strength to get downfield, but there might have been even better blocking on the play than Gates' own moves. Two plays later, he was targeted in the end zone on a fade and drew a pass interference penalty. Late in the second half, he went up high to snag a 19 yard pass to set up the Chargers at the five yard line. His basketball skills came in handy as he boxed out the defender for the football, but it was really his only action of the second half as the team went to a more run-oriented, ball control approach. He saw one more target in the end zone but the ball was somewhat underthrown by Rivers, and Gates was unable to maintain his footing on the play. He could have caught the pass, but he couldn't keep himself inbounds long enough to do so and it fell incomplete.
Week 8 vs. OAK
Receiving: 3 / 49 / 0 on 6 targets
Gates isn't putting up the huge stats we've grown accustomed to over the years, but a lot of that has to do with the emergence of WRs Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. Gates is still doing what's needed of him when his number is called. If it seems as if there's always someone open for San Diego, that's because there usually is. On one of those very plays, Gates took a swing pass in the left flat and sprinted up the sideline for a big gain after the catch. The play went for thirty yards and helped set up Tomlinson's second score of the game. He did have an issue with a pass along the sideline late in the game that he was unable to haul in because the sun was in his eyes, but he more than made up for that with a tough grab over the middle despite being drilled by Michael Huff. It resulted in a big first down and kept the chains moving as San Diego tried running out as much of the clock as they could.
Week 9 vs. NYG
Receiving: 5 / 67 / 0 on 8 targets
Gates had typically strong numbers for a TE, but he had two uncharacteristically bad drops that kept him from having a 100-yard day - including one when he just took his eyes off the ball like a rookie. The Giants had a lot of trouble covering him and keeping track of him, but it's no surprise that defensive end Justin Tuck couldn't cover Gates on a red zone catch in the first half.
Week 10 vs. PHI
Receiving: 7 / 78 / 0 on 8 targets
Gates was heavily involved right from the outset, mirroring what a number of other tight ends will look to do against the Eagles' depleted linebacking corps. Gates was the main beneficiary of the constant blitzing by Philadelphia, as Rivers needed to check down to the underneath receivers like Gates and Naanee rather than looking downfield to Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd. Gates did drop another pass, but he caught his share and moved well enough after the catch to pick up some nice yardage totals. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to be much of a red zone threat these days, and that was again the case in this game.
Week 11 vs. DEN
Receiving: 3 / 41 / 0 on 4 targets
Gates didn't register his first catch of the game until the middle of the third quarter, though he did break free down the seam early in the game for what would have been a long gain --- if the pass hadn't been batted down at the line of scrimmage, that is. Gates was the beneficiary of a long 24-yard reception off a flea flicker that he took down to the three yard line. Initially, it appeared as if Gates had fought his way into the end zone, but officials correctly ruled that he had stepped out of bounds at the three yard line prior to getting in. Gates has been an almost non-factor in the red zone this season, so it would appear that for him to find the end zone the rest of the way, it is going to have to come on plays similar to that one.
Week 12 vs. KC
Receiving: 7 / 118 / 2 on 7 targets
Gates had by far his best game of the season against Kansas City. It started very early on, as he reached up and snatched a ball out of mid-air over the middle for a nice gain to display his excellent hands. Later in the quarter, he hauled one in over the middle that went for a score. He initially juggled the pass to kind of corral it and gain control, and once in his possession he took off up the middle for the touchdown. All afternoon, he had very little trouble getting open over the middle. In fact, he nearly had a second score for a big gain had he not been just tripped up from behind. Fortunately for him, he wasn't done producing and he did get that second score, taking a reception at the goal line and fighting in for the final few yards to paydirt. In the second half, it was more of the same as he went over 100 yards when there was still nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. His last high impact play of the game was when he drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone that helped set up yet another scoring chance.
Week 13 vs. CLE
Receiving: 8 / 167 / 0 on 9 targets
Gates had one of the best days of his career in this game, hauling in eight catches for 167 yards. While he didn't get into the end zone, he did everything he could to put the team in position to do so. He showed terrific hands on a number of catches, going over the middle on a 22 yard grab and again at the eight yard line to snatch one out of the air for 18. He also showed great ability after the catch, twice stopping on a dime to cut back and shake the defenders free. The toe injury he suffered several years ago seemed to have robbed him of his moves for awhile, but lately those quick cuts have been more and more prevalent in his game. He capped his afternoon with two terrific catches in double teamed traffic. On the first, he did a nice job of adjusting his body in traffic to locate the ball before either defender could, and on the second one he leapt to grab the jump ball over both defenders on a 56 yard bomb downfield.
Week 14 vs. DAL
Receiving: 4 / 44 / 1 on 5 targets
Gates was quiet early on, with just a short grab over the middle in the first half. But late in the game, he was the recipient of Philip Rivers' only touchdown pass of the game, a crossing route that he picked and waltzed into the end zone for the easy score.
Week 15 vs. CIN
Receiving: 4 / 33 / 1 on 8 targets
Gates looked primed for another monstrous game early on. He was targeted in the back of the end zone by Rivers, but the pass was knocked away at the last second. So on the very next play, Rivers went back to him and they connected for the score. Later in the half, Gates made a nice leaping grab in traffic over the middle. He also showed some terrific one on one moves after the catch to beat several defenders for a first down. He was cutting on a dime, and he has been a lot better at quick, lateral movements lately. As if to emphasize that point, he caught a short pass in the flat and turned in a nice spin move to get out of yet another tackle. But Gates' involvement really dwindled after halftime. His most significant contribution was actually a negative play, as he had a critical drop of a pass that was in fairness thrown a bit behind him. The ball bounced around for a bit and was eventually intercepted off the deflection, leading to a Cincinnati touchdown.
Week 16 vs. TEN
Receiving: 3 / 74 / 1 on 5 targets
Antonio Gates worked the middle portion of the field well against the Titans in Week 16, catching two balls for gains over 30 yards at a clip in the second and third quarters. Gates started slow on the night with a short catch of just six yards but then was the intended receiver on a halfback option pass by LaDainian Tomlinson in the end zone but the throw was too far out the back of the end zone. Gates broke free on a busted play in the second quarter as Philip Rivers scrambled and barely stayed behind the line of scrimmage as he found Gates for an easy 36-yard touchdown. Gates had just one target in the second half, a nice 32-yard gain along the right numbers.
Week 17 vs. WAS
Receiving: 1 / 12 / 1 on 4 targets
Gates got free downfield repeatedly early, but it took Rivers three shots to finally find him. The connection came in the red zone and Gates scored on a corner route that was thrown with ideal touch by Rivers.
Week 19 vs. NYJ
Receiving: 8 / 93 / 0 on 11 targets
Gates had a big game, constantly getting open almost at will. Multiple times he was able to use his big frame to shield off defenders with a basketball "box out" technique. He found lots of room over the middle, and really seemed to be giving the Chargers a decided advantage in the passing game. He made an exceptional one-handed snag of a lob thrown over his head and picked up several yards after the catch. It wasn't the kind of one-handed catch that gets juggled and bobbled before being corralled, either. It was a straight pick out of the air with one hand. His hands weren't as great late in the game as he dropped one in the open field when he tried to run before the catch, but made up for it soon after with a nice gain on a catch and run.