Fantasy Football: 5 Potential Antonio Gates Replacements

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Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) runs the ball during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When Antonio Gates missed the first four games of the season because of a suspension, many fantasy owners out there backed him up with other tight end options to start the season. Well, it looks like you may have to do it again this week—as reports are swirling Gates could miss Sunday’s tight end-friendly matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

ALSO ON SPIN ZONE: Is Gates the greatest TE in NFL history?

According to a story from’s Chris Wesseling, “Most importantly, eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates suffered an MCL sprain in the fourth quarter of last week’s game in Green Bay, reports Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.”

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Wesseling obtained a quote from Gates in the same article, as Gates stated, “Sunday is Sunday. You try to find a way to get out there. If you can’t, you’ll make sure to let the coaches know you can’t do it, give them a chance to pull someone else up for whatever the case may be. I’m very optimistic in anything I do because I understand this is football. But this is obviously something I’ve never had an opportunity to deal with. This is my first. We’ll see how it goes.”

The “first” Gates was referring to in that quote is a knee injury, as he has avoided suffering any of them up until this point in his illustrious career—which is quite impressive given the common occurrence that knee injuries seem to be in the NFL today.

Just how big of a loss is Gates to his team and fantasy football players alike? A huge one, especially if you dealt away other tight end options after his two-game explosion.

In two games, Gates caught 18 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns on an astounding 27 targets. According to the scoring in my ESPN PPR fantasy league, Gates had 30.2 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers and another 18.5 against Green Bay last week. In fact, in just two games Gates already rose up to No. 1 in fantasy points per game for tight ends and No. 2 in targets per game.

To make matters worse for owners, the Oakland Raiders have been absolutely atrocious against tight ends this season. Oakland is dead last in the category, giving up an average of 22.2 points (in my ESPN PPR league) to opposing tight ends—which is 9.6 points above the league average.

Prior to Denver’s tight ends putting up a goose egg in Week 5, the Raiders defense had given up 33.4, 27.6, 24.5 and 25.3 points to Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland and Chicago—which included six touchdowns and 32 receptions. Put simply, this was supposed to be a big week for Gates owners across fantasy football.

With the possibility of Gates missing the game, this means you are going to have to find a replacement either on the waiver wire or under his $5,000 price tag on DraftKings for your daily lineups. So if you are scrambling around, stop right now—just as I did last week with the Martellus Bennett injury rumors, here are five replacement options for you if you don’t want to roll the dice on Gates being a game-time decision.

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