Gates caught both of his targets for 10 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 48-17 preseason loss to the Seahawks.
Though he played just one series, Gates picked up a first down before capping off a long drive with a five-yard touchdown reception from Philip Rivers. There has been talk of limiting the 37-year-old's involvement this season, but he showed in this one what he can still do at his advanced age. He is unlikely to see any extended run during the preseason and could become a situational player once the regular season begins.
Gates could be used as more of a third down and red zone specialist, ESPN's Eric Williams reports.
Gates ended the 2016 season with more snaps than rookie TE Hunter Henry, but it finally seemed as if Father Time had caught up with the 36-year-old, as Gates struggled to explode off the line of scrimmage. That certainly came through in Gates final stat line, as the veteran TE managed to record just 538 receiving yards, his lowest figure since 2012. As a result, it's likely Henry will take over more of the starting TE role, with Gates fading into the background as more of a third down and red zone specialist. That can still make for a useful fantasy fallback, especially in the Chargers high-octane passing attack, but it appears as if the days of Gates as an elite fantasy TE are officially over.
New head coach Anthony Lynn said he plans to use Gates and Hunter Henry together, but the frequency with which the team uses two-tight end formations will depend on the opponent, chargers.com reports.
Gates and Henry combined for 15 touchdowns last season, with the former getting more volume and the latter producing much more efficiently on a per-target basis. The team did make use of two-TE formations at times, but Gates and Henry still cut into each other's snap counts, with both finishing the year at fewer than 600 snaps. While the 22-year-old Henry will rightfully enter 2017 as the preferred commodity, Gates could still retain a significant role in the San Diego passing game, particularly near the goal line.
Gates' 111th touchdown catch was a historic one, as the veteran is now tied with Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in the history of the NFL. While the 36-year-old has suggested he will be back for his 15th season, it's clear Gates is beginning to succumb to Father Time as he limped his way to 548 receiving yards, his lowest mark since the 2012 season. However Gates still possesses an innate chemistry with Philip Rivers, particularly in the red zone, which has kept the veteran fantasy relevant despite an obvious decline in athleticism. With rookie tight end Hunter Henry flashing signs of brilliance it seems like only a matter of time until Gates is surpassed on the depth chart, but that doesn't necessarily mean the ageless wonder will fade off into obscurity. Perhaps more damaging to his fantasy value could be a full-scale coaching change, as the
Gates caught eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's loss to the Browns.
One week after being held to just a single catch, Gates exploded against the Browns, factoring in plenty throughout the game. With Hunter Henry hampered by a variety of injuries, Gates saw a team-high 13 targets and converted that into season-high marks in catches and yards. Despite the solid performance Saturday, the 36-year-old is on track to post career-lows in targets, receptions and receiving yards in what could very well be his last year in the NFL.
|P3||8/26/17||@ LAR||8:00 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ SF||10:00 pm|
|1||9/11/17||@ DEN||10:20 pm|
|5||10/8/17||@ NYG||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ OAK||4:25 pm|
|8||10/29/17||@ NE||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/12/17||@ JAC||1:00 pm|
|12||11/23/17||@ DAL||4:30 pm|
|15||12/16/17||@ KC||8:25 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ NYJ||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|