Jimmy Graham's Injury Makes Ben Watson a Must-Add This Weekend

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2013

Aug 25, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) runs after a catch against the Houston Texans during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry Jimmy Graham fantasy owners, it's time to move on from the star tight end this week.

Graham, who has been battling a foot injury, missed practice yet again on Thursday, as tweeted by Joe Buscaglia of Buffalo's WGR550:

Given that Graham had the week after a bye to heal up, it is time to abandon ship. Even if Graham participates Friday and somehow sneaks into the lineup on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, his role will likely be limited to that of a decoy.

Luckily for Graham owners, who undoubtedly spent a very high selection for his services, there's a savvy veteran available in the majority of leagues who can more than pick up Graham's slack.

Now in his 10th season, New Orleans' Ben Watson is more than a serviceable pickup with Graham out of the way. He won't be asked to do the ridiculous highlight-worthy things Graham is capable of, but the 32-year-old Watson is still a big body at 6'3" and 255 pounds who is more than capable of contributing downfield in the passing game.

Oct 13, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) runs the ball against New England Patriots middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (55) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sport
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Watson's career numbers are by no means sexy. While 3,886 yards and 29 scores do not jump off the page, Watson has produced where it matters most for our purposes—in Graham's absence.

Two weeks ago when Graham suffered his injury against the Patriots, Watson stepped in and easily established a nice rapport with quarterback Drew Brees, hauling in three receptions for 61 yards.

Keep in mind those numbers came on the road against a New England defense that ranks just outside of the top 10 in total pass defense.

Now Watson and the Saints return home to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and welcome a mediocre 3-4 Buffalo team (yet another reason the Saints won't mind Graham sitting this one out to get to 100 percent) that is markedly worse against the pass than New England.

Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) celebrates with tight end Jimmy Graham (80) after Graham scores a touchdown during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Fo
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

While Graham being on the sideline would make life a bit easier for a porous Bills secondary, it's not as if all that attention will go to Watson instead. No, the Saints still have weapons such as Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles and a surprising rookie receiver in Kenny Stills—all of whom Buffalo must account for on each down.

Besides, we're not talking Watson in strictly a handicap sense. Look at the NFL's Week 8 schedule overall—six byes, meaning names like Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener and Owen Daniels are all out of action.

So Watson has plenty of value in the league's No. 2 passing attack, but especially to those who own Graham and especially since other quality options are taking the week off.

Watson by no means will perform consistently for weeks on end as a No. 1 tight end as Graham did through the first five games, but he won't have to in order to be useful from a fake football perspective.

The savvy vet will allow Graham owners to effectively weather the injury storm, so Watson's fantasy value is higher than it has even been since joining the Saints this offseason.

Take advantage while he's available.



Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling