Fantasy Football 2013: Should Jimmy Graham Be a Second Round Draft Pick?

Mike Ploger@@PlogerContributor IIAugust 29, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints takes the field for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 23, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Jimmy Graham is the cream of the crop when it comes to fantasy tight ends.  The question is whether or not he has enough upside to be considered among players like A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall.

That's who Graham sits amongst in the Average Draft Position (ADP) provided by FantasyPros.  He averages the No. 16 draft spot, 24 picks above the next best tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who is taken right around 40th.

Let's take a look at some of Graham's numbers from the past two seasons.  In 2011, he emerged on the scene catching 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.  A year later, his production declined.  He led the Saints in receptions with 85, and he had 982 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.  However, all of this happened while he played with a wrist injury and even missed a game due to a sprained ankle.

Despite only two 100-yard games last season, he still managed to be the top fantasy option among tight ends.  In standard scoring leagues, Graham finished with nine points more than the next best option in Gronkowski.

There's two ways of looking at this debate to draft Graham so early in the draft.  His value can be judged on numbers alone, placing them side-by-side with the others he is being drafted near.  Or, a "wins above replacement" type of look can be considered.  That is, his value is based off the difference between him and the next best option.

First, we'll take a glance at this value without considering he's a tight end.

When looking at the ADP, take a look at the five guys currently being drafted after Jimmy Graham.  There's Brandon Marshall, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas.

Every one of these players finished with more points than Graham in 2012.  The closest was Steven Jackson, who many considered to have a lackluster time during his final year in St. Louis.  As a matter of fact, Maurice Jones-Drew is the first person drafted after Graham with less fantasy points, and he missed 10 games last season.  Jones-Drew is being drafted nine spots after Graham according to the ADP.

Of course, it wouldn't be fantasy football if predictability wasn't involved.  Even if Graham puts up similar numbers to his 2011 season, he falls somewhere in the range of the fifth-best wide receiver and outside the top 10 running backs.

This shouts "overrated."  Graham ought to be falling in the mid-third round when looking at it from that angle.  However, something else must be considered.

Where does Graham stack up compared to his fellow tight end companions?

To say he's worthy of being picked 20 or more spots ahead of the next available tight end based on 2012 statistics would be a joke.  The difference between him and the fifth-best TE was 30 points, less than a two-point difference per week.  The rest of the tight ends aren't being drafted until the fifth round!  A three-round difference for two points?  Doesn't seem like much upside.

And then come his 2011 numbers to the rescue.  When comparing Graham (second amongst TEs) to the fifth-best that year, there is a 69-point difference.  Between Rob Gronkowski and that fifth TE, there's a difference of 116 points, a 7.25 weekly point divide.  If this were to be the case once again, then the argument for drafting a TE so high is valid.

So that begs the question once again: Where should Jimmy Graham be drafted in 2013 fantasy football drafts?  At the end of the day, the answer is subjective.