Football is an amazingly surreal sport. It’s fast, intense, and to players like San Diego Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates, it can sometimes feel as vicious (physically and mentally) as a pick-up truck getting t-boned by a yellow school bus; doesn’t matter the speed.
Over the past few seasons the bolting big target has dealt with nagging injury after nagging injury, but has persevered for the most part, especially considering the severity of some of those injuries. In fact, despite missing nine starts combined in 2010 and 2011 Gates still managed to post good enough numbers in both (114 receptions, 1,560 yards, 17 touchdowns) to make consecutive Pro Bowl teams.
Consequently though, the injury bug that continues to hamper Gates has also taken a toll on his status among the best in the game today. According to USA Today, Gates was left off the NFL Network’s top 100 players for 2012, which isn’t sitting well with big number 85. Now, he’s motivated to get back to the top where he believes he belongs.
“I want to prove that I’m still the guy at this position, still the guy who can dominate this position, still the No.1 tight end in the NFL. I’ve come in with a chip on my shoulder. I’ve heard things people said, talking about other players at this position. But to discredit what I can do, I take it personally.”
As a fantasy owner this kind of banter from a player just tickles me pink. So I did what any good researcher would do after reading text like this — I looked for consistencies within the Chargers offense with Philip Rivers leading the charge and Gates seaming down the middle. Below is a play that stood out above the rest.
Gates Y Option
The Chargers run different versions of what I have found to be the most productive Gates-oriented play. On this particular version the Chargers are just outside the red-zone and the Green Bay Packers defense has employed a 2-Deep (safeties) Nickel package. This ultimately means that Rivers will have a pretty tight window to find his big tight end, which will be the gun-slinging quarterback‘s first and only read.
Gates himself will have the option to either run a post in, or a post corner out, which is determined based on the movement of the free safety (circled in gold). If the free safety stays angled towards top zone receivers Malcom Floyd (running a outside fly route) and Robert Meachem (running a deep curl route) Gates will make his move inward. If the free safety angles down trying to read the play, then Gates will post to the corner.
The strong safety on this play (circled in green) has to hold the outside because of the formation called, which makes it easy for Gates to turn him around and cut inside for the easy touchdown in between the hashes.
As mentioned above, the Chargers run different versions of this play, and Gates and the outside receivers have been the beneficiaries of some big plays over the years. Look for much of the same in 2012, especially if Gates wants to get back to the top spot among the NFL’s tight end class, and the Chargers want to maintain their potency on offense with key pieces missing.
A.T. — Auction Tiers
Take a look around the fantasy landscape. Most folks don’t care too much for auction drafts for various reasons. Those who do like having full control of their fantasy destiny usually need a little guidance to giddy-up the fantasy hill. So what do they do? They turn to magazines, blogs, and informative websites (like this one) for reasoning, conforming-like cheatsheets, and in terms of auction drafting, what not to do.
That’s not what you’ll get here. And trust me, that’s not because I’m striving to be the industry a-hole. No. It’s just because I like to challenge ways of thinking to continuously improve or enhance your drafting experience; you’ll thank me later.
In other words, it’s time to simplify the whole thought process surrounding auction drafting, and get some more folks to believe that they can control their own destiny. Before we continue on though, I want you to envision the process of buying a home for the first time (for those who rent think about it from an apartment standpoint). Now, answer the questions below.
1) Would you assign a value, one price tag, to every house you were interested in?
2) Would you stick to that value to the last penny, and only buy a house that was available for that price?
3) Would you buy a second-rate house that you weren‘t excited about just because you deemed it as more valuable in price point?
If you answered no to each question, then you’ve started your clear trek down the yellow brick road to auction drafting success, and are ready for my latest fantasy enhancement, or simplification for those who are just opening their minds to the auction style of drafting.
Below you will find a printable (Google Docs) spreadsheet of values, but it’s not like the typical auction guide with as much assigned value as a wedding table alignment. Instead, what you’ll find is a color-coded range of values (I know, it sounds so easy) that will allow you the flexibility to draft the players you want without having to feel terribly bad. It will also help you plan a little better during your draft. Ultimately, I have found over the years that ranges help keep the math a little simpler and allow you to compare player values of the ones selected with the ones still available, more efficiently.
Note: The format is combinational scoring and the salary cap is $200.
On Wednesday August 22nd I will be participating in the annual SOFA Auction League, and I promise you I will utilize this spreadsheet to a tee. The results will come in the next edition of the Intelligence Report.
Thanks for reading!
Eric Huber is a Senior Writer for Fantasysharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). E-mail him your thoughts