Hunter Henry is Not “The Tight End” for the Chargers

Anthony Knox

In round 6 of my League of Record’s draft, one of the members took Hunter Henry at 6.06. Henry was the 5th tight end drafted at that point. I asked the guy why he took Henry and he said: “because he is the starting tight end for the Chargers and [Philip] Rivers likes to throw the ball to his tight end.”

I sat back in my chair, smiled, and said: “you’re right, Rivers does like throwing the ball to his starting tight end.” I sat in my chair, loading up on running backs and wide receivers, strengthening the core of my team. In my last pick before I needed to take my kicker and D/ST, I walked up to the draft board and selected Antonio Gates as my only tight end.

At that point, I turned to the guy who took Henry and said, “now the starting tight end for the Chargers who Rivers likes to throw to has been drafted!”

I don’t believe that Hunter Henry will take over as the starting tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers this year. I’m not saying he won’t have a role with the team, but Antonio Gates has carved out his role for the Chargers, and until he decides to retire that won’t change.

For his career, Gates has been a machine for the Chargers, and Fantasy Football owners. Since Philip Rivers took the reins full time for the team in 2006, Gates’ average yearly stats have looked like this:

Category Per Season (11 seasons) Per Game (204 games)
Targets 97 5
Receptions 65 3
Receiving Yards 794 43
Touchdowns 8 0.4

Gates has a career of being a top tight end for Fantasy Football owners. Anytime you’re telling me my tight end could score me 12 points each week, I will treat them like the Ronco Cooker and “Set It and Forget It” at the position.

Sure, Hunter Henry is the new flashy toy that all owners are drooling at and want to get their hands on, but he didn’t do enough for me last year to prove he will be the favorite tight end of Rivers. If you look solely at their stat differential from last season, that truly tells me all I need to know.

Category Hunter Henry Antonio Gates
Targets 54 92
Receptions 36 53
Receiving Yards 478 548
Touchdowns 8 7
Fantasy Points (Season) 131.5 149.8
Fantasy Points (Per Game) 9 (15 games) 11 (14 games)

Hunter Henry did prove that if Antonio Gates isn’t playing that he can be an elite option. In weeks 3 and 4 when Gates was out, Henry had 9 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. However, when Gates was in the lineup, he scored less than 9 points seven times, including 2 goose eggs (one of which was when I started him in Fantasy Football Championship game).

Hunter Henry’s time will come with the Los Angeles Chargers and Fantasy Football owners, but it’s going to take an Antonio Gates injury or retirement for that to happen. As long as Philip River and Antonio Gates are on the field at the same time, that is where the majority of Fantasy Football production to the tight end is going. Sorry, Hunter Henry owners.

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