TE Antonio Gates, Free agent

HT: 6-4, WT: 260, Born: 6-18-1980, College: Kent State, Drafted: ---

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2014 Projections

GRECYDY/RTDFPT
David Dodds14.048.054711.45.085
Bob Henry15.062.070011.35.0100
Jason Wood16.058.064511.15.095
Maurile Tremblay16.053.060111.34.084

Average draft position

Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]

Overall: S Smith (144), R Tannehill (145), Antonio Gates (146), L Blount (147), H Miller (148)
Position: C Clay (135-TE13), L Green (138-TE14), Antonio Gates (146 - TE15), H Miller (148-TE16), E Ebron (154-TE17)
Click here for a comparison of these players.

PPR Average draft position

Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]

Overall: Antonio Gates (143), M Wheaton (144), E Ebron (145)
Position: C Clay (130-TE14), H Miller (138-TE15), Antonio Gates (143 - TE16), E Ebron (145-TE17), D Walker (157-TE18)
Click here for a comparison of these players.


Outlook

Antonio Gates has been a top three fantasy tight end for the majority of his 11-year career, but those days appear to be over. While he's still been a worthwhile fantasy starter over the past three years, he's been at the bottom end of that range, and will likely slip into fantasy backup territory this season. While Gates is still among the Chargers' best receivers, and will therefore be on the field for the huge majority of the team's offensive snaps, he no longer accelerates out of his cuts the way he used to -- back when he routinely beat double-teams and was nearly automatic around the goal line. In fact, the Chargers' backup tight end, Ladarius Green, was more of a big-play threat than Gates was last season, and he should continue to improve while Gates, heading in the opposite direction, continues to slow with age. (Green was also the more effective run-blocker last season.) The point is that Gates is no longer the focal point of the passing game, as younger players like Keenan Allen and Ladarius Green are coming into their own, and Gates is therefore likely to be fantasy backup material from here on out.


2014 Schedule

WeekOpponent


2013 Game Summaries

Week 1 - Gates made his first reception late in the first quarter on a crossing route to pick up a first down. He tried turning upfield but was tripped up. He was later hit perfectly in stride over the middle before taking off up the sideline for a big 34-yard gain and wasnít taken down until he reached the 5-yard line. In the second half, Gates was thrown to on another deep ball down the left sideline Ė he had the ball on his fingertips, but couldnít quite corral it in for the catch. As with most of the San Diego offensive players, the offensive struggles in the second half really reduced any opportunities for production. On the bright side, Gates looks lean and much quicker than he did last year, which can only mean good things for his fantasy prospects.

Week 2 - The performance by Gates in this game is a classic example of why it is important to get the story behind the box score. A quick glance at the stat line suggests that Gates had a great game, leading the team in both receptions and yardage by a wide margin. But he left a lot of productivity out on the field. He and Rivers had a nice connection early and often, as the quarterback hit his big tight end in stride multiple times. Gates looked quick and was shaking defenders left and right. On a couple of occasions, he caught a crossing route and stopped on a dime, allowing the defender to go skating past him before taking off upfield again for a big gain. Just before the half, he used that exact move to shake a defender and then sprinted towards the end zone, seemingly about to score. But just as he neared the goal line, he was hit from behind and fumbled the ball away to the Eagles. It was his first lost fumble since September 2008, but it was hardly his last mistake in the game. To open the second half, he was targeted on a short pass over the middle and outright dropped it. Later, he was targeted on a floater in the end zone in one on one coverage. It ended up as a jump ball, which Gates got his hands on first, but he dropped it as he tried bringing it into his body. The play should have been a fairly easy score. On an ensuing drive, Rivers found Gates on a short pass out in the flat. The ball bounced around a bit before he finally deflected it to himself. But even then, once he regained control of the ball, he failed to secure it against his body. It wasnít stripped away, but had there been a defender behind him, it certainly could have been. Gates finished up his mistake-filled game in strong fashion, however, making back to back key receptions on the teamís eventual game-winning drive. He was just running right through people, stiff arms and bruising upfield the whole way in typical Gates fashion.

Week 3 - Based on the first quarter, it appeared as if Gates was in line for one of his best career games. QB Philip Rivers was looking to him early and often, in every situation, and Gates was responding with his typical excellence. He made a beautiful one-handed snag along the sideline, just reaching out his hand and the ball seemed to almost stick to it. He was also targeted in the end zone on the teamís opening possession, going up and over the top of the defender to haul in the pass. He also did a terrific job of keeping his feet inbounds along the back line while twisting his body, for a truly outstanding grab all the way around. As he has done many times before, he used his superior speed, size, and strength, all simultaneously, to box out the defender and actually take it away from him at the last moment. Gates nearly added a second touchdown reception on a nice grab over the middle in the second half. He took a big hit on the play and was tackled down right at the 1-yard line, with the drive resulting in an eventual Ronnie Brown touchdown. Unfortunately for Gates, the pace of the game and the inability of the San Diego defense to get off the field resulted in a lack of opportunities, and he ended up with a solid albeit unspectacular stat line.

Week 4 - Gates was incredibly busy in this game, posting his highest yardage total since Week 4 of the 2010 season and his most receptions in a game since Week 3 of 2007. Gates caught everything thrown in his general vicinity, and on every type of route. Itís no mystery why the resurgences of both Philip Rivers and Gates have coincided with one another. Gates showed off his entire repertoire in this one Ė strength to stiff-arm a defender following a short pass, awareness of where the defenders were, using his body to shield away defensive backs from the ball, and straight-line speed. In doing so, he passed legendary Ozzie Newsome for fourth place on the all-time list in receptions by a tight end. And soon after, he put the capper on his afternoon by streaking down the seam for a 56-yard touchdown pass. In recent seasons, Gates may have been caught from behind by his defender, but not here. It was the score that put the game out of reach, and demonstrated just how devastatingly effective Gates can be when fully healthy and in shape.

Week 5 - Gates had yet another excellent game, and all that was missing was the touchdown. There was a close call on that front, with Gates being targeted at the 1-yard line by Rivers on a designed quick screen. But the ball was thrown out in front of him, almost leading him towards the goal line, so it fell incomplete. Had he thrown it right to Gates, the big tight end probably would have caught it and walked into the end zone. He did the majority of his work over the middle of the field, and looked very smooth and fluid again. It cannot be overstated how much healthier Gates looks this season than in recent years, and it shows up in the box score.

Week 6 - Gates had a quiet game, which was due in part to the emergence of WR Keenan Allen and also due in part to the repeated drop issues by Gates. He has had a bit of a rough go in the early going, dropping several very catchable passes already in the young season. He added to that total in this game, dropping an easy one on the team's opening possession. Later in the first half, he had a ball in his hands that wasn't technically a drop but it was stripped away by the defender as he tried coming down with it (still a ball he normally hauls in). In the second half, he brought in three receptions as the Chargers ran the offense fairly conservatively. After staying in to block, he was the last resort for Rivers to dump it off in the flat. He ended up taking it upfield for a nice first down gain. Soon after that, he showed that the patented Gates move (planting hard with one foot to fake a spin and then turning it upfield the other way) is back, something that has been missing the past couple of seasons due to his foot injuries. Late in the game, he had a chance to essentially clinch the game with a short third down reception. But the normally reliable tight end ran his route just short of the sticks, coming up inches shy of the conversion. On fourth down, the Chargers were forced to attempt a long field goal rather than running time off the clock, which the first down would have enabled them to do.

Week 7 - Gates was busy, but didn't break any gains for more than seven yards. He caught a team high six balls, but had the fifth-most receiving yards on the team. Most of his routes were of the shorter variety where he just sat down in front of the defense. He did get a scoring chance when Rivers flipped a shovel pass to him from inside the 5-yard line. However, Gates was taken down short of the goal line. In fact, he appeared to have fumbled the football away to the Jaguars right at the goal line. But the officials ruled that there had been no clear recovery by Jacksonville on the play, so Gates was spared the turnover. With the Chargers at the doorstep of the goal line late in the first half, Rivers continuously looked for wR Keenan Allen and never once went in Gates' direction.

Week 9 - Gates had a solid but unspectacular game. His early receptions were of the shorter variety, as has been the case with most of his grabs this season. With his return to good health, the Chargers have the ability to get him the ball quickly off the line and allow him to make plays after the catch. The one time he was targeted deep down the field, he actually had beaten his man for what could have been a long gain. Unfortunately for San Diego, the ball was underthrown a bit. The defender had his back to Rivers but had the good fortune to have the football bounce off the back of his helmet for an incompletion. Gates did have a chance, albeit a slight one, to turn in a more impressive stat line for his owners. He was the recipient of a goal line corner fade late in the fourth quarter with the Chargers driving for the go-ahead score. But Gates didn't get off the line all that quickly, and the ball was thrown well beyond him for an incomplete pass.

Week 10 - Gates had a solid game, leading the team in receptions, yards, and targets. Still, it's a bit of a concern for Gates owners that a game in which he's finally the top option in the passing game ends up with him putting up merely "good" statistics. It could have been so much more, drawing a pass interference penalty in the first quarter (that could have been a nice gain if not for the flag) and later missing out on a one-handed touchdown in the end zone. He also could have made a nice one-handed grab on a ball thrown down the field, but that wasn't by choice. He had to use one arm because the other one was being held by a defender (but nothing was called). Other than that, he again looked strong and healthy with the ball in his hands. He caught a first half pass in stride and plowed right through the tackler on his way up the sideline. As he finally did get tackled, he fell forward for some additional yardage. His biggest reception of the game came on a play in which Denver only rushed three defenders. QB Philip Rivers sat back and surveyed the field, waited for Gates to sneak down the sideline, and the two connected for a big 24-yard pass play on third and long. But it was the end zone pass that could have really capped Gates' game. The ball was deflected at the front of the end zone, yet Gates made a quick adjustment and still nearly managed to pin it against his body for the score. Unfortunately for him, it was knocked away from him for an incomplete pass.

Week 11 - Gates had a solid performance, but had to share some of the tight end bounty with Ladarius Green. The youngster paced San Diego with 81 yards through the air, relegating Gates to second fiddle in terms of yardage. Still, Gates made his presence felt with a number of big plays. He caught a touchdown early on, easily beating his man off the line. Gates made a quick stop and bounced through the wide open space, and with no defensive help behind his coverage man, Gates slid across the middle of the end zone for the score. Late in the first half, Gates dropped a wide open crossing route, though the ball was definitely thrown a bit wide. It would have been a tough catch, but mishandling receptions has been an issue at times for Gates this season. Fortunately for him, the team called the very same route for him on the ensuing play and this time he hauls it in. He rumbled down the field, stiff-armed the defender, and picked up extra yardage for the big gain. Unfortunately, he was whistled for a penalty that backed them up when it was ruled he had grabbed the defender's facemask during the stiff-arm. Like most San Diego players, his activity dwindled in the second half. He made one short catch over the middle and moved pretty well after the catch to pick up the first down, but that was the extent of his damage.

Week 12 - On a day when Gates became the fourth tight end in history to catch 700 passes (he was also the fourth tight end in history with 699), he actually took a back seat to youngsters WR Keenan Allen and TE Ladarius Green in the passing game. He didn't make any big explosive plays, but he was targeted at two key junctures. The first was in the second half, when Gates beat his man in the end zone and made a terrific adjustment on the pass. But unfortunately for him, he was along the back line of the end zone already and QB Philip Rivers threw it just a bit too far out of bounds. Later in the game, with about a minute left to play and San Diego facing a third down and ten, Rivers went to the reliable Gates once again to convert for a first down. While the volume was certainly down, Gates was actually able to gain separation at times against a stout Kansas City defense.

Week 13 - Despite looking healthier than he has in years and despite putting up nice stats most weeks, it hasn't been a banner season for Gates. In this game, he was once again upstaged by his understudy Ladarius Green (who tallied four more yards and one more score than Gates had, despite catching three less passes). Gates looked solid for the most part, with most of his damage once again coming over the middle. Unfortunately for Gates, his miscues loomed much larger than any productivity he had. After fumbling just twice in the last ten years, he fumbled the ball for the second time this season when he lost one in the first half. The review made it look like he was close to having a knee down, but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the initial call on the field. Gates later had another miscue, this one even more costly. A Rivers pass was jostling around in his hands and never actually hit the ground, so it was ruled an interception of QB Philip Rivers when the defender came up with it - but make no mistake, it was Gates' fault. At times, Gates remained on the field even when Green came in, showing that the Chargers aren't seeing these two as merely starter/backup but rather as complements to one another.

Week 14 - Gates began the season as the team's primary passing option, but has quickly moved to second fiddle after WR Keenan Allen (and perhaps third after RB Danny Woodhead). His big play in this game was a 23-yard catch and run on a crossing route over the middle. It was perfectly-timed in stride, and he rumbled his way down to the doorstep of the goal line. But Gates wasn't looked to in red zone situations, and allowed yet another pass to bounce off his hands for an incompletion. His normally reliable hands haven't been as good this season as in years past, and this was the latest example.

Week 15 - If you were a San Diego receiver in this game, chances are you had a very quiet evening. The team opted to play keepaway from the Broncos, choosing to run the ball 44 times as oppposed to just 29 pass attempts. The result was that no Charger had more than three receptions or 54 yards. Gates' involvement was pretty typical of the San Diego receiving corps, with a crossing route early on going for 14 yards and getting the Chargers into the red zone - but then very little after that. He was the closest target to an end zone pass that sailed well over everyone for an incompletion, and never saw anything near the end zone the rest of the way. As mentioned, the Chargers kind of took the air out of the ball after halftime and ran it almost exclusively from that point on. Gates did lose about a 5-yard reception early on when he caught a second and 6 pass that went for five yards. Denver had gone offsides on the play, so San Diego HC Mike McCoy wisely opted to take the penalty and negate the gain by Gates.

Week 16 - Gates did just about all of his damage prior to halftime. He looked strong, catching a crossing route and then essentially punching defenders out of his way, on an early catch. He used his body to shield out the defender on another first down conversion over the middle. And lastly, he turned a TE screen into a runaway freight train when he turned upfield with a head of steam on a short reception. Rather than trying to dance around the defender, he appeared to be seeking out contact and simply bowled over the defender in his way with a violent collision. In the second half, San Diego focused more on the run game and getting the ball to the wide receivers.

Week 17 - Gates made a short grab over the middle on the first offensive play of the game. Later in the half, he was the target of a goal line pass play that resulted in a touchdown. He broke out from the line on a corner route by beating his man right off the jump, then spinning back towards the field to adjust and bring the pass in for the score. Most of his other receptions went for minimal gains, although he did convert a big third down and long pass play midway through the third quarter.

Week 18 - Gates has become the primary blocking back for San Diego. With the emergence of Ladarius Green, Gates just isnít needed, and in all honesty, doesnít possess the speed to scare defenses. Foot injuries and extra weight have caused Gates to lose his ability at a far quicker pace than that of, say, Tony Gonzalez. He was only able to get one reception in this game, but did a ton of blocking.

Week 19 - Antonio Gates struggled to get anything going against an active Denver defense, finishing the day with just 4 targets, 2 receptions, and no first downs. While Gates often looked slow against Denver, the Broncos still respected the threat he presented, often assigning a cornerback to cover him. Gatesí day ended with a pair of incomplete passes on 3rd-and-5, one of which hit him for what should have been an easy reception, but which Gates dropped with a defender on his back.