By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Green Bay Packers sign Jimmy Graham to a 3-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: Russell Wilson’s loss is Aaron Rodgers gain. The Seahawks, who could never find the best way to work Jimmy Graham into their offense the same way the Saints did, knew they were going to lose Graham during free agency, it was just a matter of finding out to whom. In an uncharacteristic move, the Green Bay Packers were the team to step up.
There were many reports surfacing that Graham and the Saints were headed towards a reunion but the Packers swooped in with a better, more lucrative offer. Could you imagine playing your entire career catching balls from Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers? If Graham doesn’t make it to Canton, he has no one but himself to blame. As one of the greatest tight ends of not only his era, but in the history of the game, I have no doubt he’ll get the call at some point when it’s all said and done.
Graham, along with Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates, have been the best TEs in the league over the last 10 years or so. What Graham did so well in New Orleans was stretch the field and catch a lot of TDs. He posted two 1,000 yard receiving seasons and three years with double digit TDs. His three seasons in Seattle came nothing close to those numbers. Only last year saw him reach 10 TDs, but that brings me to the biggest reason why the Packers made a play for Graham.
Green Bay finished 24th in the league in 2017 with only 2.6 red zone scoring attempts per game. The good news is that 61.9% of their total red zones scores were TDs, which was fourth in the league. But they scored only 1.6 red zone TDs per game last season, tied for 12th. They’re looking to improve in the red zone, and Jimmy Graham scored a league best 10 TDs inside the 20. He may not be able to stretch the field like he once did — or maybe he can and the Seahawks were just too stupid to put him in a position to do so — but he can score with the best of them.
The fit is perfect and it’s easy to see why Graham should maintain his status as a top ten option at TE in 2018. Rodgers hasn’t had a TE of his caliber since Jermichael Finley was in town. In Finley’s best season, 2011, he caught 8 TDs, all in the red zone. That should provide an outlier into what to expect. My issue is relying solely on TDs for fantasy points. The Packers jettisoned stalwart Jordy Nelson so the offense will run through Davante Adams at WR now. Over the last two seasons, Adams leads the NFL with 22 TD receptions, 16 of which came within the red zone. How many of Graham’s supposed TDs will be taken away by Adams? And vice versa? If Graham only scores 6 TDs, his value isn’t that of a top 10 TE with less than 600 yards receiving. I can’t blame you for taking Graham as your starting TE. He’s a name you know and trust. I’ll be staying away because there’s just too much unknown with Graham heading into 2018.