I love Gates too, and you're absolutely right about the advantage.
Based on the concept of managing your fantasy team utilizing the principles of Category Management (I wrote an article about it last year for the cafe - http://www.fantasyfootballcafe.com/2004/tips_chance.php
), I decided to draft Gates in the 4th round in two of my leagues this year. And in spite of the loss of players like Deuce & Javon Walker, with the help of the heads up advantage that I have at TE, I'm leading both leagues in points thus far.
When I first decided to commit to this draft strategy (one league is an uber-competitive 8 team, the other is an equally competitive 12 team keeper), it seemed like it could considered a gamble. But in the end, I simply couldn't ignore the fact that in his second year, my man set the TE TD reception record. God only knows what he's going to do this year and the next. And the next. And the next...
Now I'm not really sure how many of the players you've listed I'd take over him, just because point production at RB is so necessary. But the only QB's I would take ahead of him at this point are Manning & Palmer. For the receivers, the usual suspects; T.O., Moss, Smith & CJ.
Did anyone take him in the 3rd?