Ladarius Green is all the rage in fantasy circles this preseason, but don't forget about the guy atop the San Diego Chargers depth chart.
Antonio "Old Man" Gates provided a reminder of what he's capable of during Sunday's "dress rehearsal" preseason contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite playing just three series along with quarterback Philip Rivers, the 34-year-old caught all three of his targets for 28 yards and a touchdown.
The U-T San Diego's Michael Gehlken commented on the score, which saw Gates completely lose safety Craig Dahl in coverage:
Antonio Gates still knows how to get open. No doubt about that. 10-yard TD. Chargers lead 7-0.— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 24, 2014
Now, let's get one thing clear here. In a vacuum, the third-year Green is the player you want to own in the fake football world. You're typically looking for upside in the later rounds, and the 6'6", 240-pound monster with 4.4-speed is absolutely dripping in it.
Even Gates sees a bigger role for the youngster in 2014, via Gehlken:
He's definitely matured a whole bunch. I think the one thing you notice about him now than in the past is he's a big part of what we do. ... Ultimately, that was just the tip of the iceberg what he did last year. Coming into this year, now we understand what he's capable of doing and how he can affect us in a game. He's a guy we're definitely depending on to help us win football games as opposed to the past. He was just a part of the team.
The only problem is that the Ladarius Green Bandwagon is overflowing. His current average draft position (ADP) is 11.04, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com, but odds are, there will be someone in your league with an unhealthy man crush on him. If you want to draft the Louisiana-Lafayette product, you'll likely have to reach past the 11th round.
Where would you draft Gates?
If you miss him, don't be afraid to look at Gates. His ADP is a full two rounds later, and the general lack of upside means he could slip even further.
Gates caught 77 balls a year ago, he's still the starter, and he is still very clearly one of Rivers' main targets in the red zone. You could do worse if you're in the market for a serviceable backup or bye-week fill-in during the last rounds of your draft.
With Green's expected rise, though, just don't expect him to be anything more than that.