Justin Gage: Was Week One His Coming out Party?

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 11, 2009

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 10:  James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers brings down Justin Gage #12 of the Tennessee Titans during the game at Heinz Field on September 10, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Justin Gage was a receiver who had little respect heading into the 2009 season. His current ADP is 129.98, meaning in many leagues he wasn’t selected at all. 

However, Gage plays for a team with no real standout threat at WR, so that statistic may have proven to be a miscalculation by many fantasy owners.

Who exactly were the team’s other options?

  • Nate Washington: He set his career high last season with 40 catches and 631 yards. In 49 career games, he has just 104 catches. I know he was behind Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes on the Pittsburgh Steelers' depth chart, but you still would have liked to have seen a little bit more.
  • Kenny Britt: The first round draft choice has a huge upside, but exactly what are they going to get from him? It’s likely going to take some time for him to settle into the professional game and make a consistent impact (of course, he had a huge play in what appeared to be broken coverage at the end of the first half). He has the potential to be the best of the group by the end of the season, but it should take time to get there.
  • Lavelle Hawkins: With seven career catches in 13 games, is there much hope for him to make a major impact?
  • Dominique Edison: A sixth round draft choice, not much should be expected from him.

Then there is Gage, who is starting for the Titans and appeared to be a constant target for Kerry Collins. Given the state of the receiving corps, he easily could continue to be so.

After being buried on the Bears bench from 2003-2006, Gage joined the Titans in 2007 and quickly proved that he could be valuable. He caught 55 catches for 750 yards that season, though he did score just two TDs.

Last season, he was limited to just 12 games, catching 34 balls. He averaged 19.1 yards per catch, amassing 651 yards for the season. He also caught six TDs, showing just how explosive he could be.

In the first half of last night's game against the Steelers, he had three catches for 27 yards and one TD, putting him second on the team in catches (Bo Scaife had three). He kept things rolling in the second half, picking up another four catches and 51 yards, leading the team for the day in catches (seven) and finishing second in yards (78).

He was the target for Collins 11 times, nearly double that of any other receiver (Britt and Scaife were thrown to six times each). That shows you, at least early on, that he is a target that is going to be the center of attention for the Titans.

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Will he be able to continue at this type of pace? That remains to be seen, but at this point he has to be seen as a low-end, viable option in all fantasy formats.

While he may not be worth the gamble of starting, he’s definitely worth having on your bench to be used as a bye week fill-in or injury replacement.

I was able to go to the waiver wire and scoop him up last night and I’d recommend you doing the same.

Every season, there are a few receivers who make that next big step and emerge as a tremendous option in all formats. Why couldn’t it be Gage this season?  He clearly is going to get the opportunity to excel.

It’s way too early to call allowing him to go undrafted a miscalculation, but he certainly is going to garner some attention after last night’s performance. Don’t miss out on the opportunity, especially if you have a fringe receiver buried on your bench.

What are your thoughts on Gage? Will he continue to build off of last night’s solid performance? Is he just a Week One flash in the pan?

This article is also featured on www.rotoprofessor.com/football