The San Diego Chargers have been blessed by having on their team one of the greatest tight ends to have ever played the game of football, Antonio “The Great” Gates. Since his sophomore season of 2004, Gates has become not only one of the best tight ends to have ever played, but also one of the best players the NFL has too offer. Antonio Gates has been the definition of excellence, resilience and production over his 13-year career, while playing in southern California. Nevertheless, and albeit, the tight end position is traditionally one that carries with it a longer playing career, father time pauses the clock for no one. Having said that, I am of the firm belief that in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL rookie draft, the San Diego Chargers brass selected his heir apparent in Ladarius Green.
Although, we as football fans are fortunate in being able to watch one of the greats of all-time play the game, we sit in eager anticipation as to when Ladarius Green will finally be handed the proverbial torch and ascend to the full-time starting role. Up to this point, the only time we have been graced with the presence of Green, in a starting capacity, has been when Gates was out with injury and even then the results have been sporadic, at best. There is certainly reason for optimism however, as we have been witness to short spurts of excitement and production, as he becomes increasingly more acclimated to the NFL game.
Since his rookie season, Ladarius Green has had the benefit of learning from one of the all-time greats at the tight end position. Not only has Green been a student, in the shadow of Antonio Gates, but he has also seen how excellence-in-motion looks, at the NFL level. As fantasy owners, we certainly don’t like the slow unveiling of our targeted and athletically gifted prospects, but alas, the tight end position has traditionally been one that doesn’t translate with immediate production early on in their respective careers. As such, Ladarius Green’s tenure in the NFL has been no different.
Ladarius Green hails from small school Louisiana-Lafayette were he amassed 149 receptions for 2201 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns over his 4-year collegiate career. Standing 6’6 and at a svelte 240lbs. Green has shown to be an exceptionally gifted athlete. In fact, during the 2012 NFL Combine he put his athletic gifts on full display by posting a 4.53 40-yard dash (which placed him second overall at the tight end positon). In his short career, at the NFL level, Green has shown he has the ability to get in and out of his breaks and off the line with relative ease, whether from the in-line or move tight end formations. Thus, far he has demonstrated the necessary progressions to succeed in the NFL.
Green-er Pastures Ahead
As it stands today, Antonio Gates is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2015 season. This fact, when added to a season which has seen him banned for substance abuse, suffer from multiple nagging injuries, which has led to missed time and his age, are all recipes for why I believe we could see a changing of the guard, at the tight end position in San Diego beginning in 2016. Although, Green himself is also set to be a free agent, I believe he will be brought back to assume the role as starter,or at the very least, as the first option move tight end for the Charger offense.
Taking a look at his current production in 2015, Ladarius Green has already bested career single season highs in receptions and touchdowns with 31 and 4 respectively, while his receiving yardage mark is currently the second best of his young career. Although these are not mind blowing numbers they are an indication that he has made steady improvements, in his ability to produce, when given the opportunity. When you factor in the usage and production that Antonio Gates has been able to amass over his 13-year career and how vital the tight end position has been with Philip Rivers under center, it is easy to assume that if/when given the chance Ladarius Green can find a great level of production success.
For fantasy football owners it has become increasingly difficult to identify and carve out meaningful and consistent production at the tight end position. There simply is so much disparity between Rob Gronkowski and virtually everyone else. Therefore, it is imperative to always be looking for the “next big thing”. I won’t be so bold as to predict that Ladarius Green will become the next Gronk, but what I will predict is that Ladarius Green will indeed be the “next man up” in San Diego and because of that he will represent weekly TE1 production. So when you are digging for diamonds and looking to make a splash, at one of the most volatile positions in fantasy football, give serious consideration to adding and stashing Ladarius Green. You will thank me later.
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @DynastyFFactory.