Jimmy Graham loses. For now, at least. According to reports, Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has ruled that the New Orleans Saints star tight end will be treated contractually as just that – a tight end. There was speculation Graham could have a chance at being ruled as a wide receiver thanks to 67% of his snaps coming off the line of scrimmage. In the end, however, Graham was drafting as a tight end and still technically is one, too.
The win is a big one for the Saints, who will now be able to pay him closer to $7 million annually, instead of more than $12 million per year. Graham and his agents can still challenge the ruling, but it’s unlikely to change the outcome.
With that, Graham can fully expect to stick as a tight end, which means he’ll continue to offer an insane weekly advantage for fantasy football owners. A nice 16 touchdowns from 2013 is a big reason to like Graham in the fantasy scene, while the stud tight end was able to produce at a high level even while battling an ankle issue at times a year ago.
All that being said, Graham is starting to sneak into the first round of fantasy drafts, which is insanely high for a tight end. However, if you want him, you’ll surely need to spend a pick somewhere in the first two rounds to get him. Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas are much better value picks in fantasy football, though, while a healthy Gronkowski might actually be better than Graham.
There’s also the idea that Graham had a career season in 2013 and could drop off a bit. While he’s still going to be a huge part of what New Orleans does in the passing game, new rookie receiver Brandin Cooks could steal some targets, while a repeat of 16 touchdowns is a pretty lofty expectation. Still, Graham is a legit threat for about 85 catches, well over 1,000 receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns. That puts him at the top of fantasy tight ends – if not all alone at the top spot.
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