If you’re a frequent reader of my articles, you already know I love Jimmy Graham. He was on 40% of Apex’s highest-scoring teams during the regular season and proved to be the 5th most valuable player last season.
Still, I have people asking me if he’s worthy of a first round selection. The answer? Yes, he absolutely is.
While Rob Gronkowki has (unfortunately) been unable to stay healthy, Jimmy Graham has been remarkably reliable. During his three year run as a top tight end, Graham has missed just one game. Let’s take a look at his consistency through three seasons as the Saints’ starting tight end:
Based on what we’ve seen in his short career, I believe it’s fair to project roughly 280 fantasy points for Graham in PPR leagues this season. My current projection has him at 280.1 fantasy points.
In early ADP, I see Jimmy Graham being drafted next to Eddie Lacy, who seems to be a fair comparison in terms of players that drafters will have to choose between. Let’s see how the two compare:
While Graham scored 303.5, Eddie Lacy scored 243.5 fantasy points last season. Some will make the argument that Lacy missed a game and was without Aaron Rodgers for much of the season. Yes, that’s all true but with his bruising rushing style, can we really project him to play a full 16-game season? Even if we do, can he really score 300 fantasy points? He’s going to have to catch more passes.
Here’s my estimation: I have Lacy improving a little across the board and finishing with 264.5 fantasy points – a solid improvement for a 2nd year running back who exploded in his first NFL season. Now the question is does the scarcity of the running back position (and the need to start two of them) make Lacy’s 264.5 points more valuable than Graham’s 280.1?
By taking each player’s projected fantasy points and subtracting them by their position average, we are able to find each player’s Points Above Average. Here’s how they compare:
|Points Above Average
By drafting Jimmy Graham instead of Eddie Lacy, I project that you gain 41.3 fantasy points for your team. Remember, fantasy players are judged by how many points they score compared to other players at their position – not just by how many overall points they score.
I wouldn’t rush to take Graham first overall but if you can pair him with a top WR, say Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, or Demaryius Thomas after taking Graham at the end of the first round, you’ve given yourself a very solid start. Graham is likely to outscore most of the running backs that he is being drafted alongside and comes with substantially less risk.