Coming into the fantasy football draft season, Ladarius Green was a complete enigma. After getting hyped for several seasons in San Diego, he made the leap over from Philip Rivers to Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger. He was long considered the heir apparent to Antonio Gates, but that particular torch was passed to Hunter Henry this season. He was enigmatic because he had an injury… of sorts. Rumors of ankle injuries, or maybe post-concussive symptoms all swirled in mid-August, meaning that Green was left mostly on the wire after drafts. Eventually, it came to light that it was an ankle injury that Green was battling, and the Ladarius Green Hype Train gained steam. [embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”]
Green returned in week ten, and did basically nothing for three weeks as he worked back into game shape. He averaged just three targets per game over that stretch, and hauled in five total for 97 yards. He seemed to be a dud, right up until last week when Big Ben got Green involved in a big way. They unleashed their new deep threat, targeting Green eleven times. He hauled in six of them (which isn’t a great conversion rate) for 110 yards and a score. He immediately vaulted to the top of waiver wire articles, a player worth blowing the rest of your FAAB on. After all, tight end is a waste land, and we may finally have a player on our hands who is a league winner among tight ends (a dragon we’ve been chasing all season long, to no avail).
This week the Steelers take on the Bills in Orchard Park. The forecast is for snow, which depresses fantasy production, when your quarterback’s name isn’t Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are built for this kind of weather, which will find them taking control of the game against Tyrod Taylor and the Bills, who will run the ball a ton, but not necessarily to great success. The Bills on paper are a neutral matchup, but they’ve only played a handful of quality tight ends, and only one of them got more than five targets without going over 100 yards (Bennett, Gronk and Graham all did and all went ham on the Bills). This week should be that sort of game for Green.
Green is a newcomer on the scene for this season, and is the reason we can’t forget about our preseason evaluations of players. Those of us who stashed Green are gleefully putting him into our lineups this weekend, over some options we’ve been using all year. If streaming TEs is your preferred method, you may have found your man. If you don’t, I’d start Green over every tight end that isn’t one of the usual suspects (Graham/Eifert/Walker/Olsen) and even then, maybe over Greg Olsen, and maybe over Walker? He’s a great start this week.[embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”]