Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 1: Is Saints' Jimmy Graham a Top TE?

Cian FaheyFeatured Columnist IVMarch 25, 2017

METAIRIE, LA - AUGUST 03: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints runs a play during practice at the New Orleans Saints training facility on August 3, 2011 in Metairie, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The tight end in today's NFL is essentially a glorified wide receiver and, as such, the position's value in fantasy leagues has increased over the years.

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham looks like being a breakout candidate at the position and could threaten the upper echelon of players at the position as far as productivity goes.

Graham is entering his second season and looks like being one of Drew Brees' favorite targets this season. This should be no surprise, considering his impressive play as a rookie and the release of Jeremy Shockey.

Marques Colston's injury in the preseason may limit him early in the year, which makes Graham the team's most versatile receiver. He is one of the more athletic tight ends in the league and showed that with his average of 11.5 yards per catch and five touchdowns on 31 receptions a year ago.

The only problem for Graham is that, to be a top fantasy tight end, he has to compete with future hall of famers.

Tony Gonzalez may no longer be the player he was, but Antonio Gates and Jason Witten are still slicing through defenses in their primes. Last season, Gates averaged five receptions per game and scored as many touchdowns, 10, as games he started.

Jason Witten led all tight ends with 94 receptions and 1,002 yards with nine touchdowns.

The truth is, Graham could be that productive in the future, but the Saints' offense is too talented and balanced for him to put up those kind of numbers this year.

The Saints should figure to be a 50-50 offense, since they should run the ball a lot more this year after the additions of Olin Kreutz and Mark Ingram.

This lowers the number of receptions that Graham will get, even if he is a favored target of Brees.

The Saints run a pass-to-the-open-man offense, so they will not focus in on anyone in particular. Graham will be sharing receptions with a very talented receiving corps, not to mention Darren Sproles coming out of the backfield, who led the Chargers in receptions last year.

Last season, Graham showed that he could have the talent of an elite receiving tight end and he is in a great situation to succeed on Sundays, just not on the stat sheet.

Not just yet, at least.