Ladarius Green's Realistic Fantasy Expectations for 2014 Season

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIAugust 8, 2014

San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green (89) runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ed Zurga/Associated Press

August is a great time of year for fantasy football enthusiasts—the excitement of impending drafts rivals that of the NFL's opening day. The only thing that could make this great month better is completely crushing each pick in your league's draft.

One of the most diverse positions to draft is tight end. Starting tight ends can be found as early as the first round or as late as the eighth; however, knowing which players to target is of the utmost importance.

That's where San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green comes into play.

This year, many fantasy owners are expecting big things from the third-year tight end. Although, expectations must be tempered. Here's why.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

While the 6'6", 240-pound Green is a great physical specimen, and he's in a great system with offensive-minded head coach Mike McCoy and resurgent quarterback Philip Rivers, there's still one lingering issue when addressing his fantasy value: Antonio Gates.

For years, Gates dominated fantasy football's tight end ranks, but at the age of 34, he's starting to show signs of slowing down. Still, the fact that he compiled 77 receptions for 862 yards and four touchdowns last season shows he's still capable of solid contribution.

In fact, Gates is expected to be the team's most targeted tight end once again this year:

Even though Green is Gates' heir apparent and is expected to take the reins at some point, it won't be this year—not for the entire season, anyway.

NFL Fantasy Football has the right idea:

Having both Gates and Green available—or even on the field at once in a two-tight end set—is a valuable weapon in the high-octane AFC West, and McCoy knows that. While Green will certainly cut into Gates' production, he's still subject to a committee approach.

As a fantasy owner, you may be able to get by with a running back who serves in a committee (see: Bernard, Giovani) but not a tight end. For argument's sake, here's a look at the top 10 fantasy tight ends from a year ago:

Top 10 Fantasy Tight Ends in 2013
RankPlayerTeamPoints
1Jimmy GrahamSaints217.5
2Vernon Davis49ers163.0
3Julius ThomasBroncos150.8
4Jordan CameronBrowns133.7
5Jason WittenCowboys133.1
6Tony GonzalezFalcons132.7
7Charles ClayDolphins119.4
8Greg OlsenPanthers117.6
9Antonio GatesChargers111.2
10Martellus BennettBears105.9
FFToday.com

Gates happened to be the only tight end to make that list who saw any kind of a time share last season. With Green cutting into his touches even more this year, neither player should be expected to see the 2014 version of that list.

Factor in second-year wide receiver Keenan Allen—who caught 77 passes last season—and the return of Malcom Floyd to the starting lineup, and Green's potential targets continue to decrease.

Now, this isn't to say Green won't produce at all this coming season. In fact, he could be one of the more exciting tight ends in the league down the road. This simply isn't the year to go after him.

Currently, Green's average draft position is 11.05 in 12-team leagues, making him the 12th tight end off the board, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com. This isn't a bad position if you're looking for a backup tight end with some upside—which is exactly what Green is this season.

Expect Green to put forth a solid season for the Chargers in 2014. But, as far as fantasy football goes, he's better served as a bench player or bye-week replacement.