San Diego Chargers

Fantasy Football: Antonio Gates, Still the NFL's Top Fantasy TE?

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 29:  Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch leading to his touchdown for a 7-0 lead past Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 29, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Rotistics.com Correspondent IAugust 8, 2010

Consistency usually does not equate to attention in fantasy football. Contract disputes and player movement divert media coverage towards the hot stories and away from the league’s steady performers. Antonio Gates is one of the most consistent fantasy performers, but all of the press coming out of San Diego speak to Vincent Jackson’s suspension and hold-out, the potential fantasy value of Malcom Floyd, and a what a steal Ryan Matthews will be. Is Antonio Gates no longer worth talking about? Is he still the league’s top fantasy tight end? Let’s investigate.

Assumptions:

  1. The Chargers will have a credible threat at wide receiver, whether it be Floyd or Jackson, to alleviate constant double coverages on Gates
  2. Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles will keep defenses honest by providing an adequate rushing attack for the Chargers
Antonio Gates 2010 Fantasy Football Projection

Antonio Gates 2010 Fantasy Projection

2009 was probably Gates’ most impressive year. While it may be difficult to match last year’s success, a performance relatively close to 2009 would put Gates amongst the top three tight ends in 2010. The Chargers, however, have undergone several offensive changes that may prevent Gates from taking the top spot in 2010. Vincent Jackson was a top ten fantasy receiver and shifted attention away from Gates. The veteran receiver may not play at all in 2010, pushing an unproven Malcom Floyd into the starter slot. Floyd will need to compete at near-Jackson-like levels for Gates to continue to enjoy softer coverage. San Diego also acquired Ryan Matthews to start at running back. The acquisition could signal a shift back to the running game for last years pass-happy Chargers. This shift could mean less targets for Gates, in favor of more hand-offs to Matthews and Darren Sproles.

Gates, Clark, & Davis Fantasy Projection Comparison

Gates, Clark, & Davis Projection Comparison

The Verdict: The race for the top TE spot comes down to Vernon Davis, Dallas Clark, and Gates. Davis does not have the consistent resume as Clark and Gates, and is probably a close third place. While Gates had his best year in 2009, Clark’s performance last year was simply too good to ignore. Given the lack of changes to Indianapolis’ offense, it’s hard to argue against a potential repeat of Clark’s 100 catch season. Gates will be a close second to Dallas Clark, and should start getting looks when fantasy owners fill up their starting running back and receiver slots.

For more 2010 Fantasy Football Player Rankings and Projections check out Rotistics.com.

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