Lost in the year of Phillip Rivers’ renaissance as a reliable fantasy quarterback was the glimpse at the man who will take over San Diego Chargers‘ tight end position from future Hall-of-Fame candidate Antonio Gates: Ladarius Green.
Get used to hearing this name for many years to come. Green is an absolute speed freak, posting a 4.53 40-yard dash time at the 2012 NFL combine. He is clearly still in the developmental phase, but it’s clear that Chargers coaching staff have seen enough to know that he will be an ideal candidate to replace Gates when he retires.
Gates’ production slowed down significantly this year simply because he is getting older. His red zone production has dropped off in comparison to years past as Gates scored four touchdowns in the 2013 NFL season. To put that in perspective, Gates had a minimum of seven touchdowns in each season, excluding his rookie season when he had two. That being said, the time is now for Green to learn everything he can from Gates.
In five games this season, two without any targets at all, Green posted 16 receptions for 354 yards and two touchdowns, with his reception average at an absurd 22.1 yards. The 22.1 yards per catch should be the writing on the wall for fantasy owners as Green has proven he has big-play ability.
He has game-breaking ability mixed with freakish physical gifts. His ceiling is going to be very high, and he will be an elite pass catching tight end in the NFL in the near future. In the 2014 fantasy football draft, owners shouldn’t reach too high for Green just yet. Chances are high that he will still be backing up Gates during the upcoming season.
In non-keeper leagues, owners can view Green as a possible TE2 and late-round steal. In keeper leagues, owners should not hesitate to pick him up if he is available at any point as his value will skyrocket over the next few seasons.