WATCH: PIVOT PLAY: LADARIUS GREEN
As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into a starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.
The Steelers got horrible news prior to the season when it was announced Martavis Bryant was going to be suspended for the entire year. Bryant’s suspension also wasn’t good news for fantasy football players, as we’ve been left trying to figure out who Pittsburgh’s No. 2 option in the passing game may be on any given week (let’s keep Le’Veon Bell tagged as a RB despite his production through the air).
At first Markus Wheaton figured to be the guy, but he’s hardly played this season … then it was Eli Rogers that showed some promise … then Sammie Coates had one big game … then Rogers for another minute … and by now you’ve probably given up and just focused on Bell and Antonio Brown.
Ladarius Green has finally given us what appears to be some clarity.
You wouldn’t know it if you followed the first 12 weeks of his season, though. An ankle injury disappointingly forced Green onto the PUP list prior to the season after there was some hope he’d be ready before the Steelers played six games. As you know, placing Green on PUP actually turned out to be taking the cautious approach seeing he didn’t make his season debut until Week 10.
The Steelers took their time working the ultra-athletic TE back into the mix, allowing him on the field for just 34 snaps in his first three games. There was some upside though, Green was lined up almost exclusively on passing downs, and primarily as a WR. Over those three games, Green hauled in 5-of-9 targets for 97 yards, which is solid production given the limited playing time.
Green’s lack of snaps were a serious cause for concern, though. Considering how long he took to make his way onto the field, it felt like a realistic option that Green could just be used as a weapon on certain passing downs for the remainder of the season.
Green, and Pittsburgh’s coaching staff for that matter, proved that line of thought wrong in Week 13 as he took on a huge role in the offense and dropped a 6-110-1 line on the Giants. More importantly, he played on 35 out of a possible 73 snaps (more than the previous three weeks combined) and was targeted by Big Ben 11 times.
Maybe the most interesting aspect was that even after earning more snaps, Green was not playing as a tight end. Jesse James maintained that role and played 45 snaps himself, whereas Green (6’6”/238 lbs) was lined up on the outside as Bryant (6’5”/201 lbs) would’ve been. Green’s deep play ability was put on display, as three of his receptions were for a Bryant-esque 20, 33 and 37 yards.
It may have been just one game, and it may turn out to be Green’s best game of the season. But it’s impossible to ignore the promise Green displayed in Week 13. For the first time all season, it appears the Steelers have someone in the driver’s seat for the WR2 position.
And the beauty of it? He’s a tight end that will cost you $3,900 in salary on DK — not to mention he’s probably available on the waiver wire in your fantasy football league.
For questions or comments hit me up on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.