Antonio Gates a low-end TE1 in fantasy after re-signing with Chargers

Scott Barrett examines the fantasy implications of Antonio Gates re-signing with the Chargers.

| 8 months ago

Antonio Gates a low-end TE1 in fantasy after re-signing with Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have re-signed veteran tight end Antonio Gates to a two-year, $12 million contract. This move almost ensures that the 35-year-old Gates will finish his career with the team that first took a chance on him as an undrafted rookie free agent nearly 13 seasons ago.

Gates is the team’s all-time leader in receptions (844), receiving yards (10,644) and touchdowns (104). Among all-time leaders at the position, he ranks second behind only Tony Gonzalez in touchdowns, and third behind Gonzalez and Jason Witten in receptions and receiving yards.

Last season, the Chargers offense struggled as Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Ladarius Green and Gates combined to miss 22 games. Although Green will likely sign elsewhere, and veteran deep threat Malcom Floyd is set to retire, quarterback Philip Rivers should be happy with the Chargers’ free agency moves.

Gates has always been Rivers’ favorite target, accounting for 20 percent of his career passing yards and 28 percent of his career passing touchdowns. Travis Benjamin, who ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the Combine in 2011, comes over from Cleveland to fill Floyd’s shoes as the team’s primary deep threat.

In 2015, Gates burst onto the scene immediately upon return from his four-game PED suspension, catching 18 passes on 23 targets for 187 yards and two touchdowns in two games. However, he sat out the next week, and his pace slowed after the hot start. He began to play on limited snaps dealing with knee and hip injuries.

Still, even at his advanced age, when he was on the field, he was heavily utilized, ranking eighth among tight ends in targets per game and sixth in yards and touchdowns per game. Gates finished the season as our No. 9-graded tight end via the pass. For perspective, Green graded out at No. 29 on a higher number of snaps.