The fantasy football community as a whole is pretty comfortable with Ladarius Green as a dynasty prospect. Check this tweet from Dynasty League Football’s Ryan McDowell, regarding dynasty ADP:
Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green have the same identical dynasty ADP for July- 199
— Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) July 17, 2013
And that is how the ADP should be. Green’s physical measurables are off the charts and he has the type of college background that you want out of high-upside tight end. As the Douche himself noted, Green is 6’6, 245 with legit 4.45 40 time. That’s a pretty rare physical profile and I guy you want long term stock in.
But what if Green is also worth owning in redraft?
He already went through his rookie redshirt year last season and according to Chargers beat writer Adam Greenbaum, only Green, Antonio Gates and veteran John Phillips will make the roster at tight end. Antonio Gates is 33 years old. After watching Gates hobble around all of last season, it’s pretty easy for me to believe that Gates is done. It hurts me, but it’s probably just true. Phillips is an NFL vet, who has missed one season with a torn ACL. In 3 full seasons for the Cowboys, Phillips caught 30 passes and 2 touchdowns. Even before his ACL injury, Phillips was not a mindblowing athlete. At this point, it’s not only possible, but probable that Green is the best athlete on the roster.
If Phillip Rivers is toast, then why would this matter? Well, my friend, I’m glad you asked. Even though Rivers is no longer playing in Norv Turner’s tight end heavy system, he’s always had great success throwing to tight ends. In 2006, his only non-Norv year of starting, Rivers threw 10 of his 22 touchdowns to his tight ends (Gates and Brandon Manumaleuna) and 995 of his 3338 yards. His work with Antonio Gates is the stuff of legend, but that’s not really what interests me. Since 2006, tight ends playing with Phillip Rivers have averaged 123.4 targets per year. Sure, alot of that has to do with Antonio Gates, but guys like Randy McMicheal finished with 44 targets, and there were always players like Brandon Manumaleuna getting looks. Even if Rivers isn’t posting great fantasy numbers, he can still throw the ball enough to produce the raw data needed for fantasy football. It won’t be pretty, but c’mon, that throwing motion never was.
The Chargers wide receiver corps are lackluster as well. The fantasy football community has fallen in love with Vincent Brown; not me.
|Height||Weight||40||Vertical||Explosion Score||RZ TD Rate|
Those are the measurable numbers of someone on his way out of the league quickly, not destined for a successful 120 target season. Opposing him, Malcolm Floyd has never caught more than the 56 passes he did last year, and really isn’t equipped for that role. As long as Danario Alexander stays healthy, he is basically the only game in town at wide receiver (you could say that I’m not a Keenan Allen believer). Essentially, there isn’t enough at wide receiver to make me believe that Rivers is going to start ignoring tight end for the first time in his career, and could actually benefit from throwing to the tight ends more.
By sheer volume alone, if Gates finally decides that playing through a shredded plantar fascia for a whiny frat boy and a team that is going to win like, 6 games, doesn’t sound enjoyable, Green is going to be the only game in town. While healthy, Alexander will probably command 8-10 targets, just because he is that much better than Eddie Royal, Floyd and Vincent Brown. Danny Woodhead is going to see plenty of third down work and flirt with 60-70 catches. Outside of Woodhead and Alexander, I’m not really sure what this new offense is going to look like, but we what do know is this: Green is the best athlete on the roster that plays an offensive skill position. Antontio Gates is probably more done than a Country Buffet sirloin, Malcolm Floyd is old, Vincent Brown is nothing special, and Alexander’s knees are made of Russian Babushka dolls. Very suddenly, there could be a target vacuum created in that offense and Green has the physical tools to fill that void. As the preseason and training camp starts, pay attention to the San Diego beat writers to make sure that Green is proving to be an adequate blocker, as well as to see if he is being moved around the formation and utilized in different ways. If those blurbs do begin to show up, stash Green away as your 18th round pick and hope for the upside, or cut bait if it doesn’t materialize.