It’s kind of hard to call someone a sleeper when every fantasy football owner knows his name but this year it’s true, Antonio Gates is a 2013 fantasy football sleeper.
Over the past few years the decline in the once great tight end’s skills has been obvious. The problem has stemmed mainly from nagging injury after nagging injury and it seems that the once reliable Gates has become a fixture on the weekly injury report.
Yet, even though injuries have nagged him and slowed him down, he’s still been a solid fantasy producer. The decline in his fantasy stats is clear and he’s no longer considered an elite fantasy tight end, yet the former basketball star from Kent State is still more than capable of being a top-10 fantasy option in 2013.
While the Gates, who dominated fantasy football and scored more than 220 fantasy points in five of six seasons from 2004-2009, probably will never be back. He’s certainly capable of scoring more than the 144 points he had last year, which was the first time his points per game average was fewer than 10 since 2003.
Yet, there are still reasons to be optimistic with Gates; first off he was never healthy last season and it showed. He lacked the explosiveness and the athleticism that coupled with his size at one time made him nearly impossible to cover. Secondly, even though he struggled last season, he still hauled in seven touchdown passes, making it his ninth straight season with at least seven touchdown receptions.
Therefore, If Gates can find a way to get healthy and stay healthy, relatively speaking, he should be able to return to his high level of production. He may not score 250 fantasy points but 200 is not out of the realm of possibility. And according to published reports, Gates has looked much better this offseason and was even described by some observers as looking quick and fit, a good sign for fantasy owners looking to take a chance on the future hall of famer.
Besides his ability to produce, the other reason why Gates is a great sleeper in 2013 is where he’s being drafted. Right now, Gates ADP (average draft position) is 135 according to myfantasyleague.com, meaning you can basically get Gates in round 10 or later, which is good value for a starting tight end with the upside of Gates.
Even if Gates has another “down” year like he did in 2013, he still ranked 13th among tight in point scored in PPR leagues and even if he doesn’t improve this season, you still are getting a starting caliber tight end, who has top-5 upside if he can somehow find his old form.
Drafting Gates is the kind of risk-reward move you need to make to win fantasy championships and it’s one that just might pay huge dividends when they are handing out fantasy football trophies and payouts come January.