Heading into the 2014 NFL season, fantasy owners have myriad breakout candidates to ponder at the tight end position. One of the biggest potential tight ends is none other than Ladarius Green, a late waiver-wire pickup for several owners last season.
The future is bright for Green, who shined for the San Diego Chargers at the end of the 2013 season. After showing potential through the middle of last season, he's primed to eventually take over the starting role with the Chargers this year.
While Antonio Gates still owns the starting duties in San Diego, the aging tight end will soon be overtaken by Green. Michael Fabiano of NFL.com explains his stance on the third-year player:
"Boy, this kid is so athletic," Fabiano said. "I know Antonio Gates is still there, but I'm wondering if we're seeing sort of a passing of the torch there from Gates to Green. Green is someone that I like as a late-round pick. He's a No. 2 tight end with No. 1 potential."
Limited to just 17 catches on the season, Green still finished 2013 with 376 yards and three touchdowns. Given a slightly more prominent role in two tight end sets, Green has a chance to become a phenomenal option at the position.
NFL Fantasy Football also shared a similar view on the young tight end:
Keep an eye on Ladarius Green. Won't surpass Gates just yet. But the gap will close this season.— NFL Fantasy Football (@NFLfantasy) August 8, 2014
As Fabiano notes, it might not be early in the year that owners see the numbers from Green. After all, Gates has remained the most targeted receiver for the Chargers over the last three seasons.
But when he gets his chance, he'll seize the opportunity. Green averaged 22.1 yards per reception last season in limited action and caught two passes during the first preseason game as a starter.
His development during training camp has also been noted throughout the last month. Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com points out that Green "appears to have taken another step in his development after showing the ability to create big plays last season."
How valuable will Green be after the 2014 season?
Gates may serve as the best option in the red zone for Philip Rivers, but Green is prominent when moving the ball down the field. After a tight end like Julius Thomas experienced success last year, Green has a chance to put up similar numbers if he gets more targets.
For dynasty and keeper league owners, Green is a no-brainer along with Eric Ebron and Zach Ertz. But with his athleticism already shining through at the NFL level, the San Diego receiver might be the better option.
Simply put, Green has plenty of value for owners willing to take him in a late round this season. With an average draft position of 11.02 in a 12-team league, the 24-year-old will pay off late in the year when the games truly count.
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