Burning Questions: Jimmy Graham, Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford
As the regular season approaches and you continue your preparation for fantasy football drafts, here’s a look at a few burning questions from around the NFL.
Is new Seahawk TE Jimmy Graham still worth an early-round selection?
This one shouldn’t even be a question in my opinion, but Grahams’ current ADP of 27th overall in standard leagues suggests otherwise. In 2014, Graham outscored Bears’ TE Martellus Bennett by only 0.9 points per game and Bennett is currently being drafted 77th overall. Keep in mind that Graham was in the Saints’ pass-heavy offense last year where there is ample opportunity for pass catchers. Take this against the Seahawks and you’ll see a large drop off; 2014 passing plays per game, Saints 63% & Seahawks 48.5%. Graham garnered 124 targets in New Orleans in 2014 while Russel Wilson’s top target received only 98 looks. The top three TEs in Seattle saw 80 total targets combined. A decrease in volume will cause targets, receptions and yardage to decline for Graham in 2015. I can see his TDs sniffing double digits as he will be the main red zone target for a team that was top 10 last year in red zone scoring attempts. Drafting Graham at his current ADP seems unfathomable to me considering his PPG differential compared to other TEs with much much lower ADPs. Let someone else pay the high price for the sure-to-regress TE and consider RB Justin Forsett (ADP 28th overall) who outscored Graham by almost 60 points in 2014 and plays a position that can potentially fill one of three spots on your roster if you use FLEX.
Which undervalued QB could return the most value in 2015?
The QB position has become increasingly devalued in fantasy over the years as more and more teams are airing it out and the number of 4,000-yard passers seems to increase on a yearly basis. In 2010, only five QBs eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark. The 2014 NFL season saw 11 passers go over that mark, and No. 12 missed the total by only 14 yards. As a result, waiting on drafting a QB until later rounds has become the norm. In terms of undervalued, I’ll consider QBs who are not being drafted as a starter in 10-team leagues.
Two names jump off the page instantly are Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford. On average, Tannehill is currently the 13th QB being selected in fantasy drafts. He finished 2014 as the eighth highest scoring QB despite a mediocre WR corp and it being his first year in the system of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. He finished the 2014 season with 4045 passing yards and 27 TDs, adding 311 yards and a score on the ground. Miami passed on almost 62% of their plays in 2014, and Tannehill finished the season with the fifth most completed passes in the NFL. The additions of Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron significantly increases the talent level that Tannehill will be throwing to in 2015. Meanwhile, second-year wideout Jarvis Landry will look to build on his solid rookie stat line of 84/758/5. The WR corps was recently ranked as the fifth best in the league by 247 Sports. Tannehills’ 27 passing TDs should see an increase with Cameron and Parker offering viable red zone targets that he did not have last year. Miami has the 10th easiest schedule for QBs in 2015 and 13th for WRs. Expect Tannehill to improve on his numbers from last year and be an absolute steal at his current ADP.
Stafford had a disappointing 2014 campaign finishing as the 15th highest scoring QB despite being the fifth QB drafted last season. But Stafford was also operating in a new offense under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. His No. 1 wideout, and arguably the best in the game, Calvin Johnson was hobbled for much of the season and Stafford was the fourth most sacked QB in the NFL. But Detroit used four draft picks on offensive lineman, including a first rounder, and the group is expected to be improved in 2015. With a healthy Johnson and 1,000-yard receiver Golden Tate back for another season, the second year in Joe Lombardi’s system should be much improved. Detroit passed on over 62% of their plays in 2014, so the volume will be there for Stafford. He could easily improve on his 4,257 yards in 2014 and his 22 TDs should move closer to 30. As the 12th QB being drafted, Stafford comes with a low price tag and high ceiling.
Although both of these guys offer great value, Tannehill may be poised for the bigger year. He has a slightly easier schedule, a better all-around group of weapons, and a rushing attack that averaged almost 30 yards more per game than Detroit. His ability to move the ball with his legs adds a dimension that Stafford can’t offer. Honestly, I’ll be more than happy with either of these guys at their current ADP, but Tannehill is the better value in 2015.