Ladarius Green has had one interesting 2016 football season. Signing a 4 year, $20 million deal in the offseason, he was the heir apparent to the Heath Miller role in the Pittsburgh offense. However, a mysterious PUP designation sidelined Green to start the season, as he was officially being listed out with an ankle injury. Rumors were abound that he was battling headaches from multiple concussions suffered from his time in San Diego, and this was the primary cause of his absence. Nevertheless, coach Mike Tomlin insisted it was only his ankle. Green was finally activated in week 10 against the Cowboys. Through weeks 10-12, he had 9 targets/5 catches/97 yards, as the Steelers were clearly easing him back into action. However, in week 13, Green played 48% of the offensive snaps and exploded for a stat-line of 11 targets/6 catches/110 yards/1TD. With his playing time only going to grow, Green is now safe to fire up as a TE1, especially in a shallow TE pool for 2016.
Consensus Ranking and Projected Stats
For week 14, Green is ranked as the 78th Flex PPR player overall, and the 8th tight end. His projections for the week:
Receiving: 3.4 catches, 46.0 yards, 0.4 TDs
Total Points: 10.6 PPR points
Current Week Match-up
This week, the Buffalo Bills host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The total Vegas over/under is set at 47.5, which is a higher total on the week. The Steelers are in the midst of their divisional race, currently tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the division lead, with a record of 7-5. With Baltimore drawing a tough game against New England this Monday night, Pittsburgh will look to win their 4th game in a row and pull ahead in the division race. Ladarius Green figures to be a large part of the game plan, as he’s seen his playing time increase each week since his activation from the PUP. With defenses having to focus on Antonio Brown, Green has the ability to shine as the second-best pure pass catcher on the team. He had long gains of 33, 37, and 20 yards against the Giants, showing the ability to burn past his coverage. Buffalo has given up three touchdowns to tight ends of the last five games, and their defense has been susceptible to tight ends this year.
The Steelers signed Green to replace the Heath Miller role, and perhaps even more. With soft hands and great speed, Green was stuck behind Antonio Gates for many years. While Green is now playing behind LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown, he has a far better option of being the large red zone presence that the Steelers need.
Comparable Flex Starters
I’ve analyzed some comparable flex starters, along with a brief description of why I like them more or less:
TE Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions. Projected PPR points – 10.0 PPR points
Ebron has been oft-injured throughout his career, and this season has been no different. Already having missed a quarter of the games this year, Ebron has struggled to stay healthy. Despite all this, he has still managed to place in the top 20 at the position, likely due to how shallow the TE position has been this year. With back-to-back duds against Minnesota and New Orleans, Ebron is a boom/bust option against the Chicago Bears this week. Already being limited in practices as of Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I’d go with Green over Ebron.
Conclusion: Start Green over Ebron
TE Gary Barnidge. Cleveland Browns. Projected PPR points – 8.0 PPR points
Barnidge was last year’s waiver wire darling, coming out of nowhere to produce a TE1 year. However, this year has been drastically different. In a shallow TE year, Barnidge has struggled to produce points. This is primarily due to the revolving door at QB for the Browns. With RG3 scheduled to be the starter this week, Barnidge is facing another QB change. RG3 has been out since week 1 with a shoulder injury but is now slated to start in week 14. For those that drafted Barnidge to be your TE1 this year, I’d look elsewhere in an important week 14 match-up for many owners.
Conclusion: Start Green over Barnidge
Record to Date:
Player Projections: 5 – 7, 1 N/A
Start/Sit Recommendations: 15 – 8, 3 N/A