San Diego Chargers star Antonio Gates was the most dominant tight end on the field on Sunday afternoon, catching 10 balls and surpassing 130 yards receiving on his game-clinching 56-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of Week 4's win over the Dallas Cowboys, per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus via Twitter:
A personal apology to Antonio Gates: I didn't think you were very good anymore. You are still very good.— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) September 29, 2013
After his remarkable performance against Dallas, Gates has now managed to increase his fantasy output in every game since Week 1's opener against Houston.
Considering that, and the fact that Gates has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back games, fantasy owners won't want to touch Gates the rest of the season. While his trade value has never been higher, he's not worth moving unless you can land an absolute stud in return.
Over/Under 1,000 yards receiving for Antonio Gates in 2013?
With matchups against Oakland, Indianapolis and Jacksonville up next before San Diego's Week 8 bye, Gates will be a must-start at tight end over the next three weeks. He likely isn't going to go for 100-plus yards in every other game from here on out, but owners have got to be encouraged considering he's the team's leading receiver through four games with 32 targets, 25 receptions, 364 yards and two touchdowns.
With 12 games left to play, Gates is on pace for a career-best 1,450 yards in 2013.
It's also worth pointing out that the man responsible for getting Gates the ball, Philip Rivers, is scorching-hot to start the year and has now thrown for more than 400 yards in two of the Chargers' first four games, per ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter:
Philip Rivers set NFL record for highest completion pct in 400-yd game, 83.3%. Previous: Jeff Garcia, 81.8%, 2000 (via @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 30, 2013
Although it's been four years since Gates last surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, he's averaging 14.5 yards per catch this season. That's his best mark since 2010, when he averaged 15.6 yards per reception and scored 10 touchdowns.
While the fact that Gates has had his best games against dreadful secondaries in Philadelphia and Dallas is unavoidable, he remains a big target and a favorite of Rivers. Therefore, all indications are that he will continue to have games like this for fantasy owners in 2013.
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