Originally written August 05, 2013 on NFL Injury Report:
I was doing a mock draft on Yahoo! Fantasy Football a couple of days ago, and found myself arguing about the New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham. Graham has been taken in most drafts somewhere around pick 11-20; the second round in 10-team leagues. CBS Sports has his average draft position currently at 22nd - so for the purpose of this article, I will assume he is valued at the No. 22 overall pick. Great first practice! Feeling blessed to be apart of this team and back working harder than ever! #sweatequity — Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) July 26, 2013 Per CBS sports, the top 5 tight ends currently being drafted are: Jimmy Graham No. 22 overall pick Rob Gronkowski No. 40 Tony Gonzalez No. 52 Jason Witten No. 53 Vernon Davis No. 58 Jimmy Graham is absolutely, unquestionably, the best available tight end in every league, regardless of format. He is not worth the No. 22 overall pick. Here's a side-by-side look at Graham's stats compared to Cowboys Jason Witten over the last four seasons: 2009 Graham Witten 2011 Graham Witten Targets n/a 125 Targets 149 117 Receptions n/a 94 Receptions 99 79 Yards n/a 1030 Yards 1310 942 TDs n/a 2 TDs 11 5 2010 Graham Witten 2012 Graham Witten Targets 43 128 Targets 135 150 Receptions 31 94 Receptions 85 110 Yards 356 1002 Yards 982 1039 TDs 5 9 TDs 9 3 Witten is currently being drafted 31 picks after Graham. While Graham's stats are slightly more attractive, they are shockingly similar. Let's take a look at some other similar gaps at running back, wide receiver, and tight end... Tom Brady; No. 38 Tony Romo; No. 68 Stevan Ridley; No. 20 Ryan Mathews; No. 54 Reggie Wayne; No. 51 Stevie Johnson; No. 83 The gap in talent at other positions when projecting down three full rounds is massive compared to the statistical difference between Jason Witten and Jimmy Graham. My advice; don't reach for Graham. I know he's never going to fall to the 4th round, so just don't draft him. I've been told by fellow mockers that he's the only "guaranteed 1,000 yard tight end." Only once has he put up 1,000 yards. Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Stevan Ridley are all better options at this stage in your draft. Graham and Gronkowski were the only two of the top 5 tight ends who missed time last year due to injuries. Don't draft your team like it's 2011, pass on Graham. If you can't settle for a lower-end tight end like Kyle Rudolph, draft Gonzalez in the 5th round. More fantasy questions? Find me on Twitter @NFLMind
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