Jimmy Graham Will Be A Top-10 Fantasy Player: Take It To The Bank

jgWhen it comes to tight ends, I generally hate them. They typically give you the same production, plethora of catches as receivers do if they are elite. But lack of touchdowns drives me nuts. Aaron Hernandez is going away for a long, long time. Rob Gronkowski could miss some time, but I am not too worried about him. Tony Gonzalez is aging and while his track record shows he will do some work this upcoming season, father time might do some work as well. Then you have Jason Witten — he is Tony Romo’s boy. Mr. Witten will get you a plethora of catches which can be great for points per reception leagues but not exactly the touchdown machine and we cannot trust Romo every game. But now it is time for my final player, who I have blatantly omitted until now.

Jimmy Graham

I am going to write this as clearly as possible without hesitation:

Take Jimmy Graham early in fantasy drafts. He will be a top-10 player.

The reason why I am telling you to do this is because Graham is simply really good.

When it comes to drafting, it is about getting the top players at each position, knowing the amount of talent at a given position, and most of all being smart and decisive.

The tight end position is very thin at the top and the wide receiver position is oozing with depth. There are six elite, seven fringe elite and fifteen above average wide receivers compared to one elite, three fridge elite and a plethora of average guys. Think about that for a second. The significance and the advantage a team has taking Graham is huge. A team takes Graham in the second round this is what they get.

1)     Top fantasy tight end in the game.

2)     A top wide receiver masked as a tight end in the game.

He is entering his fourth year in the league, his fifth year of playing football. Past two seasons he has put up 85-plus receptions 950-plus yards and nine-plus touchdowns despite only starting 11 and nine games.

Last year the Saints were in shambles, the coaching staff was suspended. Despite all of that, Drew Brees was the top fantasy quarterback last year. Now this year, they are getting head coach Sean Payton, Darren Sproles is healthy, and they want to speed the tempo up on offense which means more opportunities for receptions, yards and ultimately red-zone targets. Graham is entering a contract year and we all know what generally happens in those years, he is healthy and New Orleans thinks he can become Jimmy Graham of 2011. Add a fifth year of experience and the New Orleans Saints are basically giving fantasy owners no excuses when it comes to Graham.

Read between the lines.

Graham has been Brees’ favorite target, literally. In 2012, Brees targeted Graham 135 times despite battling ankle and wrist problems for the season and 149 in 2011. Tom Brady targeted Gronkowski 124 times when he broke the record for touchdowns in 2011. Graham has more targets than Julio Jones and Gonzalez despite playing nine games in 2012. The only players that have more targets that are top talents are Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas.

The reason is these teams have a number one receiver and zero depth outside of that or their quarterback is top ten in attempts. Graham is leading his team in targets, while starting nine games last year when three of his teammates reached triple digits in targets.

So take this in to account when it comes to drafting Jimmy Graham real early. He was a top-15 player in 2011 out of RB/TE/ WR, a top-five player out of just WR/TE and a top 15 player in 2012 between WR/TE. That is second round value right there. Jimmy will be a top-10 player and the top player at tight end a position with no elite depth. Take him early, you will have an opportunity to get a top wide receiver as well.