Jimmy Graham was used primarily as a red zone threat in Seattle. Last season, he led the entire league in red zone targets and led all tight ends in touchdowns. Who was Rodgers’ favorite red zone target? Jordy Nelson, and he’s gone. The other pass-catching tight ends that came in to play recently still had to play as the fourth option behind Nelson, Adams, and Cobb. Now that Nelson’s gone, Graham seems to be the obvious #1 mismatch in the red zone.
Believe it or not, even though it seemed like Graham was only targeted in the red zone, he was 7th amongst tight ends in targets with 95 – but only caught 57 of them. Graham had his struggles catching the catchable ones, but he actually didn’t have too many catchable ones compared to the rest at his position. His catchable targets ranked 25th at the tight end position, but he had the #1 contested catch rate. When you catch the contested balls, QBs tend to trust you a little more to just throw it up to you.
Is he going to end up a TE1? Most likely. Vernon Davis was a TE1 last season 🙂 Graham is being drafted as the TE4 at the beginning of the 5th round, which is a fair spot for him. There is obviously risk of him becoming yet another tight end not panning out with Rodgers, but his upside is being one of Rodgers’ favorite targets. Graham is definitely the most talented pass-catcher of any tight end they’ve brought in recently, and with the departure of Jordy Nelson, they need another guy to step up. He can line up at multiple positions – on the line, out wide, or in the slot – and when he’s on the field, he’ll be running routes – he’s not the best blocker in the world, but that’s a good thing for fantasy in this case. I would solely consider him a red zone threat at this point until he proves that he still has it in between the 20s, so temper your expectations.
I probably won’t be drafting him unless I hear that him and Rodgers are having an amazing connection during training camp. I’ll consider him in the 5th for the upside if I don’t like any other options, but I do plan on waiting on Randall Cobb, so wouldn’t want to double up. Do you think Rodgers and Graham will have a connection worth taking him in the 5th?