Former Charger, Ladarius Green is currently being drafted in the ninth round behind Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker and Coby Fleener. Of those players only Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert had more touchdowns than Green in the first seven games of the season. Green had four, Eifert had five, and Gronk reeled in six. The only problem is, after week seven Green never had more than two receptions per game.
I’ll be honest with you Green’s stats don’t exactly translate to a fantasy football stud. Last season was the best season so far of his career. He had 37 receptions, for 429 yards, and four touchdowns. The only stand out stats he can boast is a healthy YPC average (14.1) and zero fumbles. His problem was he just couldn’t shake the shadow of legendary tight end Antonio Gates. Gates has an incredibly strong rapport with Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, and is one heck of an athlete. Greens only brief time to shine was due to Gates suspension in 2015. It’s tough to beat out an already established veteran player, especially one who has such a strong connection with his quarterback. But in spite of those stats the Pittsburgh Steelers liked what they saw in those seven weeks. They signed Green the first day free agency opened to the sweet tune of 20 million over four years, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Green is joining one of the best offenses in the league, who are currently desperately in need of a new face after losing long time tight end Heath Miller to retirement. Over the past four seasons Miller averaged 88 targets per season, and his 592 receptions are the sixth most in league history by a tight end. Green is bigger and faster than Miller. In fact, he’s one of the biggest targets for Big Ben currently on the field. Ben has a history of leaning on his tight end when he’s in a jam and Green will have a chance to shine early in the season, as The Steelers are going to be short an offensive weapon (Martavius Bryant) due to suspension.
His current competition for the job is second year tight end Jesse James. James was used very sparingly in 2015, and there hasn’t been a lot of chatter from camps about his progress. Likely James will face the same issue that Green is leaving, trying to beat out a veteran tight end. In my mind, there’s no way that Green doesn’t end up on top.
But don’t just take my word for it. I’m not the only one thinking Green could be poised for success in 2016. Marc Sessler, writer for NFL.com has Green as the #1 player on his list of players who “aren’t getting the attention they deserve“. ESPN even gave him a shout out in their ESPN predictions for 2016 with Jeremy Fowler almost guaranteeing Green “will become a breakout star” in the Steelers high octane offense.
Take it to the bank, there are big things in store for Green this season.
*I feel in all fairness I should note that I am a huge Steelers fan.
*Also, my go-to guru Matthew Berry is not a fan of Green. Boo to you Berry.