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The Redraft Myth of Ladarius Green, and the Mystifying ADP of Antonio Gates

antoniogates

Perhaps the two most mystifying ADP’s to me this offseason are those of teammates Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates. Green is surging on late-season numbers bolstered by somewhat fluky long receptions, and in the process Gates–a decade-plus stalwart–is being criminally overlooked.

Average Draft Position Chart

ADP MFL10 FFCalculator
Ladarius Green 10 12.08
Antonio Gates 13.1 13.11

It seems FFCalc has a more reasonable ADP for Green than MFL10 does. However, he still goes before Gates, which is only slightly more shocking to me than Gates’ 13th round ADP in both.

The redraft myth of Ladarius Green

For those who can’t recall, here is Green’s game by game 2013 box score:

Week Rec Yards TDs Targets Snap Counts
1 0 9 / 55
2 0 12 / 84
3 2 48 2 20 / 59
4 0 3 / 74
5 1 11 / 75
6 1 25 1 16 / 78
7 2 40 3 21 / 74
8 BYE 0 4 / 66
9 1 10 1 22 / 75
10 1 25 1 20 / 65
11 4 81 5 29 / 72
12 3 80 1 5 61 / 67
13 2 45 1 6 31 / 75
14 1 46 / 73
15 0 33 / 75
16 1 32 / 73
32 / 73

Most of the excitement around Green stems from his late-season run, and especially Weeks 11-13. Those games were each highlighted by precisely one big play per game.

  • Week 10: A 25 -yard reception
  • Week 11: A 35-yard reception
  • Week 12: A 60-yard touchdown
  • Week 13: A 30-yard TD

During weeks 11-13, Green was TE7. It’s worth noting that Coby Fleener was TE3 during his best stretch (Weeks 9-12), Rob Housler was TE12 in his best stretch (Weeks 10-12), and Jared Cook was TE6 during his best stretch (Weeks 1-3.)  In other words, I don’t put a ton of stock in isolating and extrapolating a player’s best performances.1

I’m not one for removing a player’s best plays in analysis, but if we remove only his two biggest plays, here’s what Green’s 2013 looked like:

Week Rec Yards TDs Targets
1 0
2 0
3 2 48 2
4 0
5 1
6 1 25 1
7 2 40 3
8 BYE 0
9 1 10 1
10 1 25 1
11 4 81 5
12 2 20 5
13 1 10 6
14 1
15 0
16 1

I only did this to show how generally unexciting Green’s 2013 was, compared to our memory of his season. Worth noting, Green’s Pro Football Focus stats aren’t all that impressive, rating a non-positive score in the run blocking and passing game on eight different occasions each. His season long run-blocking score was quite poor. After missing almost all of 2012 as a redshirt year of sorts, these are not necessarily promising indicators.

Others have talked about why you should be buying into Green in dynasty formats. I won’t repeat any of that work here, but Green certainly has upside. I consider that Green’s long-term prospects outweigh his short-term ones. It’s important, though, to factor risk into draft prices – even the prices of people we view to have considerable upside. In the 10th (or even 12th) round of redraft leagues, I do not believe Green’s downside risk is factored in. 

The mystifying ADP of Antonio Gates

Trivia question: What was the last year Gates was not a top 12 tight end?
Answer: 2003. He was a rookie.

In the decade since then, here are Gates’ TE fantasy finishes:  1, 1, 1, 2, 4, 3, 2, 7, 12, 9

One of those second place finishes came while only playing 10 games, and his first non-top-four finish (7th) came while playing only 13 games.

To remind you how truly impressive Gates’ career has been, here is his NFL career graph taken from our very own NFL Career Graph apps.

gates

Impressive, eh!?

While Gates had a dramatic TD rate dropoff in 2013, it’s worth noting that his receptions per game and yards per reception target numbers are more or less in line with his career averages.

San Diego took the wind out of the sails of the passing game in the second half of last year, with Ryan Mathews averaging 15 rushing attempts in the first half of the season and 21 in the second. Sure, this caused Gates to average nearly 40 less yards per game than he did in the first half, but his yards per reception and TD rate remained the same. This may be an indicator that Gates’ play in the second half of 2013 shouldn’t concern us, as much as a potential concern for play calling in 2014 might–which would affect both Charger TEs.

Predicting the end of a career

I personally believe that it’s bad fantasy policy to predict the end of someone’s career.

Just look at all the value Tony Gonzalez has offered believers for years now, as many predicted his demise. Those who have drafted Frank Gore in recent years have been laughing at everyone else nervous about his “age” or “mileage.”  I could give example after example of this, looking at guys like Hines Ward, Derrick Mason, Steven Jackson, and many more. Sure, you may be burned on occasion, but if you never try to predict when a talented veteran’s long career ends you’ll end up with far more value than scorch marks on your teams.

Gates’ 2014 Outlook

If Gates merely repeats his career lowest levels of receptions per game, yards per reception, and TD rate, he would score enough fantasy points to be last year’s TE20. Interestingly, his MFL10 ADP shows that he actually is the 20th TE off the board on average.2 However, If Gates bounces back closer to his career TD rate of 7.25 TDs per year, he would likely finish as a top 12 TE. Again. For the 11th year in a row.

Basically, drafting Gates is somewhat of a no-risk and all-upside proposition this year. Meanwhile, Green’s ADP represents about the peak potential of his production, with almost no downside or risk factored in.

I may not own a lot of Green this year, for better or worse. However, I think it’s no surprise that Gates may easily end up as my single most drafted player in all MFL10s.

  1. I included Green’s snap counts in the above chart so you could see that his best weeks aren’t necessarily related to the weeks he had the most snaps.  (back)
  2. And 17th TE on Fantasy Football Calculator.  (back)

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