Seattle Seahawks - TE - Jimmy Graham
Believe it or not it's hard to make predictions about the future. If someone was good enough to nail everything I hope they wouldn't be wasting that talent on Fantasy Football.
In most leagues you're a quarter of the way through the season and with four weeks of data to work off of it's time to make adjustments. This can be an uneasy process because often times ego can get in the way. We all need to throw our preseason rankings and perceptions of players out of the window and digest what's actually happening on Sunday's.
A player who fits this bill, and who I'll admit I was completely wrong on, is Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham. Graham ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee on November 29th, 2015. Outside of a total knee reconstruction tearing your patellar tendon is one of the most severe injuries a player can sustain. To repair the tendon major open knee surgery is needed followed by 8-9 months of rehab before a player is typically cleared for contact. Because of the severity of his injury Graham was viewed as more of a luxury late round lottery ticket than the building block he has been in years past. Even though there were optimistic reports coming out of the Seahawks camp on Graham's rehab he didn't play at all in the preseason. Graham's consensus ADP ended up falling to 116 overall and TE13.
To be fair, I was on board with his ADP. We honestly haven't really seen any skill position player return to full form from this injury. Graham will be 30 in November and it was safe to assume Seattle wouldn't rush him into action. It took Victor Cruz basically 20 months to finally gain his bearings and be full go.
Well I'm here to tell you Jimmy Graham is indeed back. Graham saw limited action in Week 1 (17 snaps) but his role in the offense has increased to a full workload in recent weeks and Russell Wilson is unlocking the Jimmy Graham we all expected last season.
Although the match-ups have been pretty favorable the past two weeks (SF & NYJ) Graham is the first Seahawk to eclipse 100 yards receiving in back-to-back games since MIKE WILLIAMS in 2010. Yes, the Mike Williams who was the #10 pick in 2005 draft out of USC that finished his career with 1,526 receiving yards. 751 of those coming in his 2010 campaign with the Seahawks.
Let's take a look at the Graham we've seen the past two weeks and why I believe Graham is in store for much bigger production than his first season with the Seahawks where he was TE9 through Weeks 1-12 before he went down with his knee injury.
On this play we have a 3rd and 17. Ahmad Brooks jumps offside, so this is essentially a "free" play. Wilson goes straight towards Graham down the seam when he wins this contested situation between two defenders.
This tells me that Wilson has trust in Graham down the field, as he should. Graham is 6'7" and probably still runs around a 4.6. Here is another play where Graham adjusts his route down field to find a soft spot in the zone coverage and Wilson finds him for a TD.
Seattle is also using Graham in more advantageous ways than I can remember last season. Here is a simple underneath crossing route that is a simple pitch and catch.
Russell Wilson has one of the prettiest deep balls in the game. Despite solid coverage by rookie Darron Lee, Wilson perfectly dumps it in on a 2nd and 11.
For good measure, here is a fabulous one-handed catch by Graham on a quick back shoulder timing route.
How do you defend that? You can't.
Wilson has missed some action the past two games but when he's been in he's targeted Graham 17 times. He's Wilson's #1 target. Doug Baldwin in a heck of a WR. So is Tyler Lockett, who appears to be playing through a torn PCL. Hopefully after a week full of rest he can display the promise that we saw as a rookie.
At the end of the day, Seattle is showing the potent offense that we saw to end the 2015 season, even with the injuries to Rawls, Wilson and Lockett.
Don't expect Graham to have a 100 yards receiving each week, no TE does that, but there is optimism to believe he's back to being an elite fantasy TE. He only has 3 TD's through 15 games as a Seahawks but regression to the mean is coming.
Jimmy Graham is back people and it's time for the fantasy community to take note!
Week 5 BYE: Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle, Jacksonville
Week 4 Thoughts: I touched on Carson Wentz last week. I think he's a great streamer these next two weeks versus the Lions and Redskins...You can drop Carson Palmer. We excused his drop off in play to end the 2015 season due to a thumb injury but he was terrible in the preseason as well as the first 4 games this year. He'll miss Week 5 due to a concussion..#FreeGenoSmith
Brian Hoyer - Chicago Bears
In the future whenever my relatives ask what I do in my free time I might have to start saying I spend my time writing about Brian Hoyer. Anyways, Hoyer played well his first two starts throwing for 300+ yards, 2 TD and 0 INT in each game. The Colts have Vontae Davis back and Kevin White was put on IR today but Hoyer seems to have built a nice rapport with Eddie Royal and Zach Miller. Hoyer has some YOLO to his game and Alshon Jeffery is the perfect jump ball specialist. The Colts defense isn't anything to fear. Hoyer is a decent streaming option if you can't get Wentz.
Paxton Lynch - Denver Broncos
Lynch was forced into action after Trevor Siemian left Sunday's game with an AC joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder. This injury shouldn't sideline Siemian for long and he is likely to play this week but in the chance he's out I like Lynch as an upside streamer. I don't want to get ahead of myself after seeing Lynch play 51 snaps against one of the worst defenses in the league but he just breathes life into this offense. Lynch has an electric arm that unlocks the downfield passing game and he has the ability to make plays with his legs. If it were up to me Lynch would be starting the rest of the way for Denver. Ohh and Denver plays the Falcons this week who have given up 280 Yards and 3 Passing TD every game this year.
Week 4 Thoughts: I don't know what Adam Gase is doing with this 4-headed RB committee. Now that we're entering the BYE week gauntlet I can't blame you for dropping Jay Ajayi. I'll continue to pound the table that he is the best back but you'll never know when to play him...Derrick Henry saw a season low 9 snaps and 3 carries in Week 4. I'll preach patience with him. DeMarco Murray has been phenomenal so far but we've seen what Henry can do in the preseason...I think Doug Martin is a sneaky awesome buy low target right now. If you have RB depth and the Martin owner is hurting try to swing a deal. Martin will likely be out this week and then Tampa enters their BYE week. Coming out of the BYE I think Martin should be good to return and faces an amazing 4 game stretch vs SF, OAK, ATL, CHI. He also faces NO in Weeks 14 and 16 aka your fantasy playoffs...We still haven't heard anything on when Dion Lewis will be ready to go.
Bilal Powell - New York Jets
After feeding Matt Forte 112 times the first two weeks of the season the Jets finally came to their senses and lessened Forte's workload, creating a valuable role for Powell. The distribution of touches is now closer to what I was expecting coming into the season. Forte has out snapped Powell 75 to 71 the last two weeks. Forte is still receiving the majority of the work in the ground game while Powell is getting most of his work as a receiver out of the backfield via simple dump down passes on 3rd and longs. With Fitzpatrick throwing 9 picks over the past few games the game scripts have been in Powell's favor. Powell has received 10 touches the past two weeks and has looked better fresher than Forte. In PPR formats Powell might have Flex value these days and is one of the best handcuffs out there. He's caught 6 balls each of the past two games and it appears the Jets are more set on using him like they did the close out the 2015 season when he was literally RB7 from Weeks 11-17.
DeAndre Washington - Oakland Raiders
I've preached trying to dump Latavius Murray in past weeks because we've seen his snap count and workload diminishing. Murray is a heck of an athlete but just an OK RB. Jalen Richard, who I'll likely touch on in coming weeks since he's a small school guy most are unfamiliar with, and DeAndre Washington are each getting their piece of the pie these days. Washington is a perfect fit for an uptempo offense and should see work in two minute drills. He had 8 touches for 48 yards in Week 4. Most of that coming on this run.
SLEEPER RUNNING BACK
Kenneth Dixon - Baltimore Ravens
I was a little more excited about Dixon's role in the Ravens offense prior to Terrance West's 21 carry, 113 yards and TD performance in Week 4. I love Dixon's talent but I think the fantasy industry might be getting a little ahead of itself thinking that Dixon will just take over this backfield when healthy. This situation kind of reminds of David Cobb's in Tennessee last year where the Titans just rode Antonio Andrews for whatever reason and Cobb never became much of anything. I think Dixon is a better player than Cobb and can be a 3-down back in the NFL but it's more of a wait and see game now. I'd still pick Dixon up if you can but have realistic expectations.
Week 4 Thoughts: Do you guys want the good or the bad first? Well John Brown had 16 targets last week and 27 total in the last two weeks. He's back and he's the WR2 in this offense. Michael Floyd is struggling. Well now he might have Drew Stanton throwing to him on Thursday. I don't really know how to value that. He's like a WR3 this week. The whole reason I'm preaching this is to say be patient on legit talent. Brandin Cooks was WR51 after Week 4 last year and finished as WR9 by Week 16...Throw out trade offers for Odell Beckham Jr. Odell's productions through four games is almost exactly the same as last year. 2015 - 24 Rec, 307 Yards, 2 TD. 2016 - 22 Rec, 303 Yards, 0 TD. The Giants play the Packers on Sunday night who have given up the legit WR1 for the week in fantasy their past two games (Diggs, MJones)...Throw out offers for DeAndre Hopkins as well. I'm less optimistic on his outlook than OBJ but if you can acquire Hopkins for like Diggs or Doug Baldwin I think the risk is worth the reward. Although I expect Hopkins owners to be stubborn...Other "Buy Low" targets are Bradin Cooks and Amari Cooper.
Steve Smith - Baltimore Ravens
Smith is another playing coming off a gruesome achilles tear that apparently looked like shredded chicken. Imagine a game of tug of war ending with the rope breaking in two places. I don't really know how that's possible but that is apparently what happened to Smith's achilles. Anyways, Smith looks like the #1 WR in this pass heavy offense. Smith has racked up 8 catches on 11 targets each of the past two weeks and looks like he can be a solid WR3 again.
Eddie Royal - Chicago Bears
With Kevin White headed to IR Royal's role should remain consistent in this offense. Royal has looked like the player the Bears were expecting when they gave him a 3-year, $15 Million deal last offseason. He's healthy and looks great in his slot WR role. The Bears will have many negative pass heavy game scripts this year and Royal may even give you a bonus as a return man. He has already returned 1 punt for a touchdown this year.
SLEEPER WIDE RECEIVER
Robert Woods - Buffalo Bills
With Sammy Watkins out the past two weeks Robert Woods has been targeted 18 times. He's the "WR1" in this offense. Woods is a possession receiver so he doesn't have the biggest of upsides but Woods is receiving volume and that matters in fantasy. He's not sexy and I don't know if you'll ever feel 100% confident in plugging him in but he plays the Rams this week and has very good match ups versus the 49ers and Dolphins in Weeks 6 and 7. He could be nice filler in coming weeks.
Week 4 Thoughts: Cameron Brate guys. Talked about him last week here. He has 18 targets and 10 receptions the past two weeks since taking over the starting role in Tampa. Might I add 2 TD's and 6 red zone targets over that span. Weeks 7 through 10 are awesome match ups for him...With Kevin White gone for the season I think Zach Miller piece of the pie in the passing game will increase. He's fared well with Hoyer behind center...Gary Barnidge has been a Top 10 TE the past two weeks since Cody Kessler has taken over.
Zach Ertz - Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz is back after missing a few weeks with a rib injury and faces a Lions defense that has gives up a touchdown every week to a TE so far. They've given up 6 TD's to TE in total. Ertz fits in well into the offense and while he's never really been a red zone threat he's got as good of a chance as any this week. I think you can except your typical 6-50 line from Ertz.