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Cullen: San Diego likely to be without star TE Gates

Scott Cullen
9/30/2011 10:51:43 AM
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When healthy, San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is a premier performer at the position, recording more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns -- thresholds hit by three tight ends, including Gates, in 2010 -- in each of the last seven seasons.

However, injuries have started to affect his availability. Plantar fasciitis limited Gates to 10 games last season, the first time in his career that the 31-year-old had played fewer than 15 games in a season and it now appears that he's going to remain out of the lineup this week against Miami, hoping that rest will allow his foot to get healthy and allow him to produce at an elite level when he does return.

To the credit of quarterback Philip Rivers and the rest of the Chargers offence, they did go 5-1 in the six games that Gates missed last season.

With Gates out, Randy McMichael will start at tight end for the Chargers, but the passing game will rely more heavily on Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Patrick Crayton. Jackson and Floyd have both been slowed in practice by injuries this week, but are expected to be ready for Sunday.

When seeking other tight end options, fantasy owners could look to Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew, Carolina's Greg Olsen, Cleveland's Benjamin Watson or Baltimore's Ed Dickson.

INJURIES
- Even when healthy the Steelers' offensive line is nothing to write home about, but three offensive linemen -- LT Jonathan Scott along with guards Doug Leguarsky and Steve McLendon sat out practice. A porous line affects the entire offence, but particularly RB Rashard Mendenhall, who hasn't rushed for more than 66 yards in a game yet this season.

- 49ers RB Frank Gore has been limited in practice by the sprained ankle that caused him to leave Sunday's game at Cincinnati. Kendall Hunter, who had 30 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries against the Bengals, could be more prominent in San Francisco's plans against Philadelphia as a result.

- Rams RB Steven Jackson has been slowed by a quad injury, which should mean continued action for Cadillac Williams, even if Jackson does suit up against Washington on Sunday.

- Saints WR Marques Colston might be ready to go this week after a couple of weeks off with a fractured collar bone. It does seem a quick return, but if he's in the lineup against Jacksonville, Colston figures to be Drew Brees' top target.

- Falcons WR Roddy White is dealing with a thigh injury. If it keeps him out of this week's game at Seattle, rookie Julio Jones becomes the primary target for QB Matt Ryan.

- Packers RB Ryan Grant, who had his best game of the season last week at Chicago, suffered a bruised kidney and hasn't practiced this week as a result. James Starks would be in line for more touches against Denver this week.

- Kerry Collins has been bad enough for the Colts' fantasy value, but if he's not able to play because of the concussion he suffered against Pittsburgh on Sunday, then Curtis Painter moves into the starting lineup, hurting value across the board for the Colts offensively against Tampa Bay.

MATCHUPS
- Tough matchup for Broncos RB Willis McGahee, going up against a Green Bay defence that has allowed 55.0 yards per game on the ground.

- Detroit's running game has been mediocre and Jahvid Best may have a difficult time against a Dallas defence that has surrendered 61.3 rushing yards per game.

- Minnesota's run defence has been strong, allowing 67.3 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry, and the unit should only be better with DT Kevin Williams now in the lineup, potentially providing a tough day for Chiefs runners Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones.

- Oakland's league-worst run defence was better against the Jets last week, yet could still present a good opportunity for the Patriots, though it may be a committee - BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead -- getting the ball for New England.

- After facing Dallas' strong run defence last week, Washington's Tim Hightower should find St. Louis's run defence (allowing 5.4 yards per carry) more to his liking.

- Houston's passing attack has been prolific, but they are going up against a Steelers team that has allowed an average of 164 yards passing. Granted, the Texans have more talent available than some of the Steelers' competition to this point, but it could be a difficult matchup nonetheless.

- Cleveland QB Colt McCoy should have his hands full with Tennessee's pass defence, allowing 172 yards per game.

- New England's league-worst pass defence could provide a favourable matchup for Raiders QB Jason Campbell along with rookie WR Denarius Moore.

- Green Bay has allowed nearly 360 yards passing per game thus far, potentially an opportunity for Denver QB Kyle Orton, WR Brandon Lloyd and WR Eric Decker to put up good numbers, win or lose.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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