Saturday, January 3, 2015

Chargers' TE Antonio Gates Still Has It

In many ways, the 2014 NFL season was a frustrating one for the San Diego Chargers (9-7). This was a team that snuck into the playoffs last season and advanced to the divisional round, but this time they find themselves watching from home after being eliminated from contention during last Sunday's regular-season finale at Kansas City.

Even though they couldn't put it together as a team, some players individually shined all season long. Veteran tight end Antonio Gates was out to prove that his storied career wasn't a wrap just yet.

In fantasy football, Ladarius Green was a trendy pick to have a breakout season. The thought process was that age would catch up to Gates, who is in his mid-30's. However, from the very early part of the season, he was one of the most consistent playmakers for Philip Rivers.

The 34-year old future Hall of Famer finished the season with 69 receptions for 821 yards. He was targeted quite a bit in the red zone, as he led the team with 12 touchdowns. It was his most impressive campaign since the 2004 season.

There are bound to be a few changes between now and next fall, but the Chargers still believe in their tight end. Fantasy football owners now know that he has something left in the tank, so they will not be so quick to write him off. Rivers obviously trusts him quite a bit, so it will be interesting to monitor.

As players get older, it is always important to monitor their health. Every NFL player is one bad hit away from a spot on the sidelines. However, Gates should once again enter 2015 as one of the most talented tight ends in the game. This is a guy who seems to still be a main focal point for the Chargers and their offense as they try to get back into the playoffs next season.

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