It seems like only yesterday Jimmy Graham was the face of Fantasy Football.Embed from Getty Images
But his trade to the Seattle Seahawks, and subsequent fall from grace that was his 2015 season, has all but stopped talk about the dominant Fantasy performances he was once known for.
But is Graham poised for a comeback this season? Have the Seahawks graduated from a run-first offense to something a little more balanced? With rankings being released left and right, here’s my take on Graham…
Jimmy Graham Stats
Graham is entering his seventh NFL season. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end had made a name for himself as a premium end-zone target during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
In his career with the Saints, the 29-year old tight end averaged 11.5 touchdown receptions per season (barring his rookie season). However, his trade to The Seahawks seemed to greatly reduce some of his shine.Embed from Getty Images
During last season, his stat line took a drastic hit. He was no longer the belle of the ball, and had to get used to the run-heavy philosophy of the Seahawks’ offense.
The Seahawks finished 2015 with the third-most rushing yards, while the Drew Brees finished with the second-most pass attempts in the NFL.
A new team will often shake up a player’s performance, so we have to acknowledge Graham had a learning curve at the beginning of the season. And in Graham’s favor for 2016, Carroll says the team wants to focus on passing the ball more.
So some Fantasy players are holding on hope that he will return to putting up the totals he has the past several years.
The New Philosophy for the Seattle Seahawks
There is less certainty around the rushing attack for the Seahawks than in any season during Lynch’s tenure with Seattle. Thomas Rawls and rookie C.J. Prosise will duke it out for the starting running back position.
That is part of the reason why Carroll is paying so much lip service to the passing attack lately.
Quarterback Russell Wilson got off to a slow start last season, but he dominated after Week 11. From Weeks 11-17, Wilson averaged 272 passing yards and three touchdown passes per game. Unfortunately for Graham, this hot streak coincided with a patellar tendon tear that kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the year after Week 12.
Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse rounded out the top end-zone producers.
The bulk of touchdowns for both players came after Week 11.
Jimmy Graham 2016 Fantasy Outlook
As with many players, a change in scenery can drastically alter Fantasy production. Last season, the Seahawks completed only 10 rushing touchdowns compared to 34 passing touchdowns.
It’s worth noting that Graham missed five games in his 2015 season, the most of his career. If his stats would have remained consistent throughout the remainder of the season, he would have finished as a top-10 Fantasy option, even if it was a down year compared to his time with the Saint.
If Carroll is authentic about wanting to pass the ball more, we could see Wilson post similar numbers to his 2015 campaign. The new approach will obviously benefit Graham, providing his owners with more consistency than what they experienced at the beginning of 2015.
Of course, a lot of Fantasy outlook is speculation-drawing conclusions based on previous season facts that truly have unpredictable relevance for what’s to com-so I’m going big with this prediction….
Graham has historically played been an elite tight end. Wilson played like an elite quarterback when it counted, and I predict Wilson will continue to see the same sort of success he saw after Week 11. Graham will return to the top of the tight end leaderboards, finishing easily as a top-five Fantasy tight end.
With a current ADP near the end of Round 8, Graham could be an absolute steal.