You like to think that you’re environmentally conscious with every roster spot. Nothing is wasted, and everything has a purpose, which is why as an Antonio Gates owner, you’ve had a difficult time convincing yourself to roster two tight ends, especially now during the fantasy playoffs, when games and points carry significant monetary value.
You need to rid yourself of that archaic belief, preferably sometime over the next three hours.
If you’re choosing to still live in 2009, a wondrous time in human existence when we were just beginning to discover what a Justin Beiber is and Gates was still considered an elite tight end, you need to shatter that illusion immediately. It’s actually quite remarkable that you’ve held on for this long, clinging to Gates’ name value — the only value he has left — in a misguided attempt to justify him as an unquestioned, every-week starter.
Gates has been below replacement level for much of this year, averaging only 37.9 receiving yards per game, and over his 11 games (he missed one due to injury), he’s had below 25 yards in five of them. His tumble at the hands of an inept offense led by Philip Rivers has been dramatic, as although we’ve seen this decline coming for several seasons, last year he only had one game with less than 25 receiving yards while averaging 59.8 yards weekly, and two years ago his average sat at a total which was much closer to elite for the tight end position (78.2). Overall this year he’s on pace for just 51 catches for 556 yards, with that yardage total his lowest since his rookie season nine years ago.
His decline has been especially noticeable recently. Sure there was an uptick last week against the Bengals (six catches for 49 yards), but since the Chargers’ week 7 bye Gates has had only 193 yards over six games, and that includes games with 14, 17, and 13 yards. All these numbers which illustrate his rapid decline as the sands of time suck his life away lead to a far more daunting stat for fantasy purposes. Gates ranks 16th in scoring at his position with 60 fantasy points, behind the likes of Dennis Pitta, Scott Chandler, and Greg Olsen, and only marginally ahead of Dallas Clark.
Yet you’re still starting him, and you’re doing it nearly every week. Gates was started in 66 percent of ESPN leagues last week. That decision may have been, well, kind of alright (four points…hooray?), but Kyle Rudolph ranks seventh in points, and he was started in only 31 percent of leagues.
Abandon the shackles of name value, and seek to bench Gates. He has six fantasy points over his last three games, and overall he’s logged four games this year with one point.
One point. That’s only one more than zero.
I’ve listed all of those reasons for doom without even discussing Gates’ opponent today. The Chargers are visiting Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are giving up only 40.8 yards per game to tight ends, according to Football Outsiders, making them owners of the third best defense in the league against the position.
Bench Gates if you can, or you can’t, be aggressive with your flex spot to compensate for the lack of production you’ll receive from your tight end. There are zero points awarded for name value in the fantasy playoffs.