Fantasy Impact: Jimmy Graham to the Packers

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 13, 2018

The Packers signing of Jimmy Graham feels eerily similar to their signing of Martellus Bennett this time last year

There’s been a lot of moves in the NFL today, though not too many more important for fantasy football than this one. The Packers moved in and are going to sign tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year deal, though we don’t currently have the details of how much money is involved. Following the signing of Graham, though, the Packers made a corresponding move and released long-time wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

This move seems eerily similar to the one the Packers made last offseason when they acquired Martellus Bennett in free agency to the tune of $21 million over three years. We know how that one ended, but do we have reason to believe Graham will be any different? Bennett just turned 30 years old when he signed that deal, while Graham will turn 32 years old in November.

Get a free $3 Best Ball entry into a 2018 DRAFT contest with your first deposit >>

It’s a new era we’re entering, as both Graham and Rob Gronkowski ushered in a new type of tight end; one who was more of a wide receiver than anything. It’s fair to wonder how long these types of players can play at an elite level. Think about it for a minute – Calvin Johnson was 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, but hung up his cleats at 30 years old because he was afraid his body was deteriorating. Many other big receivers have gone the similar route or just started seeing their performance trend in the wrong direction. Graham is 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds himself, but he’s also beat the odds once in his career coming back from a torn patellar tendon, something players don’t often do. While he bounced back after his surgery, we saw his play decline over the last year while with the Seahawks.

It’s fair to wonder if Graham has gotten to the point of his body breaking down, as he failed to total more than 72 yards in any one game in 2017, including eight games of less than 40 yards. Playing with Russell Wilson should net him much more, especially when you consider he saw 95 targets, which ranked seventh among tight ends. His 520 yards on the season were his lowest total since way back in 2010, his rookie year. He did, however, score 10 touchdowns to lead all tight ends.

As for the reason for Graham’s decline on the stat sheet, he was dealing with ankle and knee injuries down the stretch that could’ve affected his overall numbers. As a 32-year-old, it’s unlikely those aches and pains will go away. Whatever the case, it seems unlikely we’ll see Graham in the peak physical condition that we’re used to.

It’s not all bad for Graham, though, as he’s going to play with Aaron Rodgers. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that, right? Rodgers is always among the league leaders in touchdowns, so it’s only natural that we’d expect Graham to, at the very least, post a repeat of last year’s performance. The release of Jordy Nelson frees up 120-150 targets in the offense (feel free to ignore 2017 that was played with Brett Hundley), giving Graham a nice big chunk to eat into.

Funny story – I made a bet last offseason with Rob Waziak (@WazNFL) and Evan Silva (@Evansilva) that Jack Doyle would outscore Martellus Bennett in fantasy football. Why would I make such a bet? One, I didn’t know that Andrew Luck would be out for the season. Two, I knew that Rodgers wasn’t someone who ever targeted his tight ends a ton. I knew that because of the research I did on Martellus Bennett when he signed last year. Those two have yet to pay up on that bet, so let them know they still owe me if you talk to them before I do.

But here’s the thing, it’s now a different story with Nelson out of the picture. You see, we’ve never seen this Aaron Rodgers before. Well, we have, just not recently. Back when he took the starting job in 2008, Nelson was just a part-time player for the first couple years. Funny though, because before Nelson became the Jordy Nelson we all came to know and love, we saw tight end Jermichael Finley see 92 targets from Rodgers. Provided the Packers don’t go out and add another perimeter wide receiver, we could see Rodgers make another adjustment to his game.

While it might seem like I’m being harsh on Graham, he’s still likely to finish inside the top-eight fantasy tight ends because of his red zone presence. At the tight end position, there are maybe five guys at the top, and then there are the rest. While I don’t want to say that Graham is just a streamer, he’s not in the every-week performer category, either. Knowing how psyched the fantasy community is about Graham uniting with Rodgers, he’s likely to be drafted inside the top-five at tight end in drafts. If that’s the case, you should feel free to let someone else have him. If you are dying to own some Graham stock for that game he scores multiple touchdowns, snag a few shares in best-ball, because he’ll be better in that format.

Miss any of the other big-name free agent signings? We’ve got you covered with the links below.
Allen Robinson to the Bears
Sammy Watkins to the Chiefs
Kirk Cousins to the Vikings
Case Keenum to the Broncos
Trey Burton to the Bears

SubscribeiTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | RSS

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
9Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
10Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
13Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
14Michael Thomas (NO)WR
15Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
16Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
17A.J. Green (CIN)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
22Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
23Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
24Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
25Jerick McKinnon (SF)RB
26Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
27Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
28Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
29Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
30Travis Kelce (KC)TE
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF
2Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
3Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
6Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
7Manny Machado (BAL)3B
8Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
9Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
10Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
 View All Rankings 
11Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
12J.D. Martinez (BOS)RF
13Chris Sale (BOS)SP
14Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
15Trea Turner (WSH)SS
16Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
17Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
18Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
19Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
20Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
21Joey Votto (CIN)1B
22Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
23Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
24George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
25Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
26Luis Severino (NYY)SP
27Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
28Andrew Benintendi (BOS)LF,CF
29Jose Abreu (CWS)1B
30Gary Sanchez (NYY)C
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Gordon Hayward (BOS)SG,SF