In a conversation with Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090 AM radio, Chargers OC Frank Reich said the time missed by TE Antonio Gates (suspension) will provide a chance for players such as tight end Ladarius Green, first round pick Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead to take on larger roles in the offense.
“You know it’s a big loss,” Reich said. “You can’t replace a guy like Antonio. And so from that perspective, there are things that he does and plans that we have when he’s in the game that are unique to him. … But this is going to make us better, because it’s going to force other guys to step in and force us to run the football. We’re already planning that anyway, but it’s going to force that hand even more.”
The article goes on to make it seem as if the Chargers really want to run the football this year, after averaging 3.4 yards a carry last year, second last in the NFL. That's why Gordon looks like he's in a great position to make an impact as a rookie RB. The Chargers also bolstered their line in the offseason which should help the cause. Gordon comes in 18th on our RB list but his ADP (3.02) is a bit higher than some of those ranked around him: 16th Jonathan Stewart (4.08), 17th Mark Ingram (3.08), 19th Carlos Hyde (4.02), 20th Latavius Murray (4.07) and 21st LeGarrette Blount (6.01). There is a lot of hype around Gordon as there often is with rookie RBs. It looks like Danny Woodhead will continue to be used in third down passing situations, however.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
“(Green) still has huge upside and possibilities,” said Chargers TE coach Pete Metzelaars. “Last year he had to fight through a number of different injuries at different times, so I am excited for him this year. He is an asset in the passing game, and has deceptive speed. So I’m looking forward to putting him into situations to take advantage of that, but also challenge him to put more tools into his toolbox.”
“He seems faster than he’s ever been,” quarterback Philip Rivers acknowledged. “He certainly seems that way with the way he’s moving. Some of that comes with (having) more and more confidence. You just naturally gain that the more you play and the more comfortable you are in an offense. When you don’t have to think or do as much, you do play a little bit faster.”
“He’s looked really good and he needs to be a bigger part…” Rivers said. “We need to have him be a weapon for us because he could be a heck of a matchup for us against some defenses.”
Gates will miss the first four games due to a suspension for PED use. Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
Even before the suspension, Green was due a bigger role in the offense. If the Chargers utilize his natural abilities and he shows he’s ready for primetime, Gates will have to settle for a reduced role when he returns.
Given how effective Gates was last year, it's hard to see the team benching him for Green even if Green lights it up in the first month of the season. One thing's for sure -- Gates's suspension has thrown a pretty settled situation up in the air. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, the league informed the Chargers on Thursday.
Gates's statement included the following:
“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Gates will be eligible to return in Week 5. Ladarius Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
The Chargers said it last year. They're saying it again now. Ladarius Green is expected to have a larger role in their offense, the team working to take advantage of his size-speed combo to present a mismatch for defenses. He seems to be playing at a faster speed in his fourth NFL offseason.
"I'd be shocked if he didn't have his most productive year," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.
"He's looked really good," Rivers said. "I hope — we intended to and tried to some last year — I hope and I think we all agree that he needs to be a bigger part of it as we move forward this year. We need to have him be a weapon for us because he'll be a heck of a matchup for us on some defenses."
Green was actually drafted ahead of Antonio Gates in 2014 which turned out to be a gross miscalculation by the fantasy community, which tends to put aging vets out to pasture prematurely. A Gates/Green combo isn't a bad idea given Gates's age and Green's much lower price in 2015. He'll explode if Gates misses any time with injury.
On the cusp of his 13th season, Chargers TE Antonio Gates has only one year remaining on his contract and is acutely aware of his expiring clock. He no longer attends voluntary workouts, nor has he done any route running this offseason.
“With injuries and whatnot, I played a little bit more than they expected me to play last season,” he says. “I was playing the whole game. How I feel next year, it depends on how much volume they have me doing. I’d like to come in on third-and-7s, red zones, those situations. That’s what my contribution is at anyway.”
Ladarius Green will once again be an intriguing late round pick, but it's hard to see him posting TE1-type numbers with Gates still healthy and available. The future Hall of Famer finished #2 in standard formats and #3 in PPR, posting 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was his 4th-best fantasy season of his career, production-wise. We'll see if the team agrees with his "reduced role" perspective.
The talk nationally before the season started was San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was done. At 34 years old, Gates had slowed down, was injury prone and could no longer consistently create separation as he did in his younger years.
Gates rightly took offense to those comments, using them as fuel in putting together one of the most productive seasons in his 12-year career. The Kent State product finished with 69 receptions for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns – the most TDs since his second season in 2004.
“It’s hard to finish your career that way – in Arrowhead not playing your best football,” Gates said. “I’m definitely trying to win a championship. I think more important than that, this coaching staff and the organization has built the foundation where we have an opportunity to win a championship.”
Those are Pro Bowl numbers, but Gates finished as a first alternate for the annual all-star game, the story said. Gates is scheduled to make $5.9 million in 2015, the final year of a six-year, $40 million deal he signed in 2010. Gates played a full, 16-game season for a second straight year, and for the sixth time in his 12-year career. Gates was a top TE plays most weeks, and for the most part produced solid fantasy numbers for owners.
Mathews hasn't played since injuring his ankle in Week 14, while Allen remains week-to-week with the broken collarbone he sustained in a Week 15 loss to the Broncos. While coach Mike McCoy says it's possible Mathews will suit up Sunday against the Chiefs, it's fair to wonder if Allen will even play again this season, the story went on to say. Eddie Royal seemed to benefit the most without Allen in the lineup as did TE Antonio Gates. Dontrelle Inman also had a nice game at WR for the Chargers last week.
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a broken collarbone along with an ankle injury in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos and is not expected to play Saturday when the Chargers head north to face the San Francisco 49ers.
Allen leads the Bolts in receptions (77) and yards (783), and has hauled in four touchdowns. After a very slow start to the season in terms of fantasy numbers, Allen had picked it up as of late during his sophomore season. There wasn't any more information available, but it would likely take a long playoff run to see Allen back on the field this season. Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates could see more targets, and it's possible the Bolts go to more two TE sets, something they briefly used last year, and bust out Ladarius Green. At WR, Seyi Ajirotutu and Dontrelle Inman are next up on the depth chart.
Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:26pm
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 12. Antonio Gates made some headlines when he said that Rivers is playing through a “very severe rib injury.” Rivers should be fine for a pretty good matchup with the Rams, though Peyton Manning had trouble against St. Louis last week, and Rivers only has one touchdown pass (versus three interceptions) in his last two games.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers clarified his injury status this week, saying he suffered a chest injury falling onto the ball during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game on a sack by Khalil Mack. Rivers said he's been dealing with general soreness, like all players, this time of year, and clarified that Antonio Gates' comments were an attempt to protect his quarterback from criticism for his uneven play the past four weeks. Inconsistent pass protection and a lack of a running game have been more of a contributing factor to Rivers' struggling performance of late.
We're not sure who to believe here. Gates said that Rivers has been dealing with a "very severe rib injury," which makes it sound like it was an ongoing issue, not the chest injury that Rivers is describing from Week 11. Rivers' matchup with the Rams looks good on paper, but St. Louis just shut down the Broncos' passing game, so it's tough to be too optimistic about Rivers this week.
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 5:58pm
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest) practiced fully Wednesday. Antonio Gates made some headlines when he said that Rivers is playing through a “very severe rib injury.” Rivers should be fine for a pretty good matchup with the Rams, though Peyton Manning had trouble against St. Louis last week, and Rivers only has one touchdown pass (versus three interceptions) in his last two games.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers took a fourth-quarter shot to the ribs Sunday.
It wasn't the first time, a teammate said.
The Chargers quarterback gave onlookers a couple held-breath moments in the second half, one when his left leg got rolled up on and another when hit to the mid-section on a third-down sack. Following a 13-6 win over the Raiders, tight end Antonio Gates told a group of reporters that rib pain for Rivers was nothing new.
Rivers never exited the game, not for the tweaked knee or rib shot.
He was evaluated on the sideline in both instances. Reserve quarterback Kellen Clemens warmed up after a hunched-over Rivers walked to the sideline following the latter.
Rivers has not appeared on the injury report this season. A team is only required to publicly disclose an injury when that player is considered to be at possible risk of missing the upcoming game, the story said. Rivers said he's no more banged up than any other QB. Rivers has six TDs and six INTs has last four games, though, throwing for 205, 252, 138 and 193 in those four contests.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen, while scoreless in seven games, hasn't lacked for impact. Defenses have schemed against him differently in year two, an anticipated trend that's presented opportunities elsewhere in the passing game. The effect for Allen is fewer statistical outbursts like the ones he had in Denver last season.
Defensive coaches had months to game plan for him. Allen and the Chargers aren't surprised what came out of it.
"People, they aren't stupid," wide receivers coach Fred Graves said. "They're not just going to let him run free. They're going to take some things away."
Allen has seen more press coverage this year. That is partly why, despite a team-high 34 catches, he has a modest 354 yards. His average yards after the catch is down from 6 to 2.9.
"They're pretty close to me after I catch the ball," Allen said.
The article goes on to explain that the attention that Allen is getting is opening things up for the other Charger receivers, namely Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal. As those players continue to produce, Allen should receive less attention, which should free him up for more big plays.
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