Jimmy Graham: Fantasy Expectations for Saints TE for Remainder of the Season

Ryan DavenportContributor IOctober 21, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints moves around Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Saints 28-27.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's official: New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham will not be taking the field with the Saints on Sunday in Tampa Bay.

In fact, according to CBS Sports' Josh Katzowitz, the All-Pro tight end didn't even end up making the trip with his teammates.

Graham's injury is a blow to the Saints' hopes on Sunday, but what's most important for both the player and team is to get the former Miami Hurricane back on the field at 100 percent. 

That's because when healthy, Graham is among the most dominant offensive players in the game, which is why he's one of the most valuable commodities in fantasy football today.

So with that in mind, what should we expect from Graham beyond Week 7?

Based upon his performance over the last 16 months, all we're likely to get is a whole lot of production from the third-year tight end.

Last year, all Graham did was tie the Saints franchise record for touchdown catches with 11, and record the second-best season by a tight end in NFL history with 1,310 yards.

So far in 2012, while Graham was unlikely to match last season's numbers, he had been producing for the Saints, with three touchdowns and 248 yards receiving going into New Orleans' Week 5 game against the Chargers.

During the San Diego game, Graham managed just one catch for four yards, and was clearly hobbled by the ankle injury that has kept him sidelined ever since.

Assuming he can return next week against Denver, Graham will get back to racking up at least 70 yards a game (which he did in three of four games prior to the injury), and may even have a chance at breaking the Saints single-season touchdown record that he currently shares with Joe Horn and Marques Colston.

Though he's only played in five games, on NFL's Fantasy Leaders Graham is still No. 8 among tight ends, but he'll move up that list rapidly once he returns.

At the end of the day, Graham is simply guaranteed to put up big fantasy numbers because of the chemistry that he and Drew Brees have developed over the last three seasons.

He's Brees' favorite target, and considering we're talking about the quarterback that recently set the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, consistency will never be a worry.

The question isn't whether Graham will get back to putting up otherworldly fantasy numbers this season, it's just a matter of when.