Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Dec 2010

Antonio Gates is Ridiculous

Best TE Seasons in Receiving DVOA, 1993-2010 (min. 50 passes)
Year Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Catches Yards TD Catch
2010 Antonio Gates (Weeks 1-13) SD 374 80.1% 65 50 782 10 77%
1999 Rickey Dudley OAK 278 63.0% 59 39 555 9 66%
1997 Troy Drayton MIA 194 53.1% 50 39 558 4 78%
2008 Visanthe Shiancoe MIN 220 50.0% 59 42 596 8 71%
1995 Ken Dilger IND 208 49.1% 55 41 624 4 75%
1995 Mark Chmura GB 280 46.6% 74 54 679 7 73%
1998 Andrew Glover MIN 167 40.1% 59 35 522 5 59%
2004 Jeb Putzier DEN 160 39.6% 54 36 572 2 67%
1999 Ken Dilger IND 154 39.4% 51 40 479 2 78%
2007 Heath Miller PIT 193 38.5% 61 47 566 7 77%
Best TE Seasons in Receiving DYAR, 1993-2010
Year Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Catches Yards TD Catch
2010 Antonio Gates (Weeks 1-13) SD 374 80.1% 65 50 782 10 77%
2009 Antonio Gates SD 358 38.4% 114 79 1,157 8 69%
2004 Tony Gonzalez KC 329 25.6% 148 102 1,258 8 69%
2004 Antonio Gates SD 325 32.5% 114 81 964 13 71%
1993 Shannon Sharpe DEN 323 35.6% 110 81 995 9 74%
2000 Tony Gonzalez KC 305 22.5% 150 93 1,203 9 62%
1995 Mark Chmura GB 280 46.6% 74 54 679 7 73%
2007 Antonio Gates SD 278 30.0% 117 75 984 9 64%
1996 Shannon Sharpe DEN 277 28.2% 117 80 1,062 10 68%
1999 Rickey Dudley OAK 278 63.0% 59 39 555 9 66%

Yes, he's that good. In fact, not only is he that good, but he's that good on one foot.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Dec 2010

52 comments, Last at 11 Dec 2010, 3:23am by Kibbles


by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:22pm

Who would have guessed that the only TE in the top ten in DVOA twice is Ken Dilger?

The DVOA list is more predictable.

And I agree with the article's title. Antonio Gates is, most definitely, ridiculous.

by Jonadan :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:28pm

What struck me is that the season that put Shiancoe on here was the Favre-less one.

by Guy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:34pm

TE coach rob chudzinski Was TE coach for shockey and winslow in college. Pretty good track record with receiving TEs

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:50pm

I thought I remembered that 1998 Viking team pretty well, but I didn't even recognize the name Andrew Glover.

by DavidL :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:58pm

The second most surprising thing on those lists to me is the total absence of Dallas Clark.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:01pm

He had 260 DYAR last year which is pretty close to making the list.

I'm not actually that surprised. He's never been the focal point of the offense to rack up DYAR, and while he's good, he's not best TE in the league good to rack up high DVOAs.

by andrew :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:46pm

Does Clark even qualify as a TE?

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 3:24am

I think Clark, for some seasons, is treated as a WR in the FO database. Based on gamecharting, i suppose...

by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:42pm

We did that for one year, when injuries had him flexed out on virtually every play, but then we un-did it. He's a tight end now.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:04pm

Also, I'd like to add that I think it's very cool that you run the numbers, see something like this, and just have to post it, Aaron. I like that you're still so excited to see greatness after all the years.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:33pm

Dude, I can't believe that it didn't jump out at me sooner. I mean, this is just nuts.

by Kibbles :: Sat, 12/11/2010 - 3:23am

What was his DVOA through 5 weeks? That's when I was warming to the fact that Gates was having possibly the greatest season by any TE in history. At that point, he was on pace for 93/1530/22. The latter two marks would have SHATTERED the previous TE records. I'm not talking about just breaking the records, I'm talking about blowing them to smithereens. If you use fantasy points as a handy proxy for production (10 yards = 1 point, 1 TD = 6 points), that would have been about 30% better than the next best season by a TE.

I'm a Broncos fan, but I'm really, really sad that Gates got hurt this year, because even I would have loved to have seen just how high he could have set the bar if he'd remained perfectly healthy.

by Russ Thomas (not verified) :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:04pm

Where did Mel Kiper have him in his mock drafts? (Crickets)be

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:24am

I enjoy a good Kiper joke as well as anyone, but it's really not fair to fault him (or any of the other GMs at the time) for missing a guy who never played a single down in college.

by cbirkemeier :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:10pm

From what Will Carroll's been saying all season, Gates has been doing all this on zero feet.

by nuk :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:16pm

If he's doing this on bad feet, why was he worse in previous years?

by TheSlinger :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:23pm

My powers of deduction have come to the conclusion that healthy feet = bad.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:20am

I thought the same thing.

Is it perhaps that Rivers is better?

by Scott C :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:08am

Early in the year he was running a lot of deep routes since VJ was out. More than normal -- especially since Naanee and Davis are better on short/mid length routes.

And he's been TRIPLE teamed more than once this season, but only early on.
His pace of attempts thrown his way per game has gone way down since the injuries got bad. I'm sure that if he was healthy his DVOA would drop with more attempts, but he would be pushing many more yards and higher DYAR.

by BJR :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 7:36am

Did anyone see his TD grab against Oakland last Sunday when it looked like he was triple teamed, but the three defenders all ran into each other leaving him wide open in the back of the end zone?

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:26pm

It may not have dropped all that much. It seems that he may be improving with respect to the things that FO measures (which would make sense: given that he wasn't a TE in college, he'd have a lot more to learn in the NFL than pretty much any other TE).

Through his first four seasons, there was something of a drop in production as his targets and deep passes increased ... but last year, he posted his highest DVOA ever with 79 catches on 114 targets, 22% of which were deep or bomb passes. And in 2007, that figure was 29%, yet he still posted a DVOA of 30.1%.

I suspect the injuries are helping a bit (by restricting him to shorter routes, which generally means more-catchable passes), but I also feel like he's learning to be a better receiver, which is a scary thought. If that is the case, what might he do next year if his feet are healthy? (no lockout thoughts, please)

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:27pm

That is a scary thought.

According to pfr, the record for receiving yards by a TE is 1290 by Kellen Winslow in 1980 (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/IrUDF) and the record for receptions by a TE is 102 by Tony Gonzalez in 2004. I have a feeling that if Gates is actually improving and can get through next season healthy he will surpass both.

by Q (not verified) :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:25pm

Finley was on pace to be equal to Gates in DYAR when you consider he put up 110 DYAR in only 4 games this year.

by dmb :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:27am

Sure, but it's a lot easier to have a fantastic 4-game stretch than it is to have a fantastic 12-game stretch (while injured!) ... not to mention how many impressive seasons Gates has put up.

by Intropy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:45pm

Antonio Gates a very good tight end; I don't see any need to ridicule him for it.

Actually, do you calculate overall DVOA contributions for tight ends? Receiving is about 1/3 of the job. I imagine calculating blocking DVOA is pretty difficult.

by Theo :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 8:08am

what's the other 1/3rd?

by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 8:43am

Rushing. But his not a very good running TE, specially foot-injured.

by Sancho (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 11:46am

Nah! Probably is PUNTING!

by Intropy (not verified) :: Fri, 12/10/2010 - 2:23pm

I was thinking 1/3 receiving, 1/3 pass blocking, and 1/3 run blocking. Yeah that's blocking twice, but I think TEs are probably called on to block twice as often as to receive, so...

Actually analyzing blocking DVOA at any position is probably extremely difficult but quite useful. It would help answer questions about running backs as well, such as who needs good blocking to succeed and who does well despite his line, etc.

by andrew :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 11:48pm

Does this include all passes thrown their way or only those lined up as a TE?

by djanyreason :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 12:57am

The DYAR is, indeed, remarkable. The DVOA... well, considering the list fails to include 2010 Fred Davis (61.9%, 3rd place), 2010 Jermichael Finley (58.6%, 4th place), or 2010 Rob Gronkowski (53.9%, 5th place), I tend to think that number may come back down to earth a bit. Either that, or 2010 is the year of the Tight End.

by dmb :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:26am

Davis and Finley haven't exactly racked up a lot of targets this year, though. Gates has done it all year long, and as the focal point of the offense.

by Kasmirsen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:25am

Gates 80.1% DVOA leads all skill positions as well. The guy who has the best chance of catching him? Danny Woodhead, with a 73.7% receiving DVOA. Woodhead lacks enough carries for his 42.5% rushing DVOA to lead the leader board, but his 128 rushing DYAR ranks 10th amongst running backs (you really should consider a DYAR cutoff for the leader board as an additional way to qualify. Woodhead's combined DYAR is 294 is pretty impressive as well -- and it'd be great if there were a combined DYAR report for running backs at least...

by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 6:28pm

Wait, why do you want to put up a cut-off for a counting stat?

- Alvaro

by dbostedo :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 11:49pm

He means a minimum DYAR as a qualification for the DVOA list in order to filter out players who only have a high DVOA because of a limited number of plays.

by Pat Swinnegan :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:52am

So is this why Rivers is amazing this season, or is it because Rivers is amazing this season?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 3:27am

Ahhh..Rickey Dudley. I don't watch college much, but I don't think I've ever been more wrong about a player than him. I was so happy when the Raiders drafted him. I thought he was basically going to be a better blocking version of Antonio Gates before Gates existed and would revolutionise the Tight End position. Nope. He had one great season with limited targets and that was pretty much it.

by tunesmith :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 5:39am

Jeb Putzier... that surprises me. I was a Broncos fan back then and even then he seemed like an afterthought.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:17pm

It is because he was an afterthought that he made the DVOA list. Some guys are great players and it shows up in their DVOA, some guys play alongside great players and find themselves open down the seam on a play action pass.

by Willsy :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 6:13am

His Wiki said that 19 teams offered him a tryout so he was on the radar.

My question is what sort of basketball player would he have been?


by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 6:55am

The "fat and short" sort of basketball player.

He's heavier than Duncan, Garnett,Bosh, Stoudemire, Gasol, Odom and Nowitzki, only they're all 6'10-7'0.

Antonio Gates is 6'4. That's... Dwayne Wade. Only Dwayne Wade is faster than a bloody cheetah.

by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 7:08am

Also, I refuse to feel bad for misspelling Dwyane Wade.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 2:35pm

Heh. Kind of like the Round Mound of Rebound?

Question: how does he compare as a basketball player to Julius Peppers?

by BJR :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 7:43am

If I hear one more announcer tell me Gates was a basketball player in college I'm throwing my beer through the TV screen.

by Theo :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 8:11am

start piling up TV screens and beer then.

by andrew :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 8:48am

Invest in a chicken wire shield for your screen.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 1:16pm

We like both types of music. Country and western!

by MCS :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 4:29pm

Yeah, that's right, I'm Tucker McElroy, lead singer, driver of the Winnebago.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 5:02pm

You're gonna look awfully funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no fuckin teeth.

by MJK :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 12:53pm

What's crazy is that even elite TE's often don't put up anywhere close to this level. Look through the player stats pages for some of the years not listed in the table above...in many years of the DVOA era, the top TEs in the league (including Gates) put up 15-20% DVOA and 150-200 DYAR.

by Timman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 4:07pm

Yeah. Elite 8 basketball team at kent state. Averaging 20/10 or better. I think he probably could have become a Charles barkley type. If you have watched any Charger games, dude could direct a clinic in how to block people out.

by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 6:29pm

No, Devin Hester is ridiculous.

Antonio Gates is a Man-Beast among boys.

- Alvaro