2018 Fantasy Football Free Agency: Will Aaron Rodgers elevate Jimmy Graham?

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Aaron Rodgers has by no means been a “tight finish man,” however after the Packers dumped the receiver he linked with for probably the most touchdowns in his profession, he simply would possibly study to like move catchers with massive our bodies and massive palms.

Especially within the crimson zone.

Jordy Nelson is out and Jimmy Graham is in with the Packers, creating a distinct search for one of many league’s most constant passing offenses. Nelson was on the opposite finish of 20 % of Rodgers’ profession touchdowns – 70 complete together with the playoffs. Of these 70, 44 got here within the crimson zone together with 16 of their final 20 connections.

And that is precisely the place Graham figures to select up the slack. A red-zone beast his complete profession, 55 of Graham’s 69 scores got here contained in the 20, together with every of his 10 touchdowns with the Seahawks in 2017.

This can be new territory for Rodgers, who has not often dedicated to tight ends. Sure, in 2015 he hit Richard Rodgers for eight touchdowns (although that included a Hail Mary) and made good with Jermichael Finley for a similar tally in 2011, however that is about it. In the final 5 years Rodgers has averaged six targets, 4 catches and 42 yards per sport to his tight ends (plural, not simply his greatest one) with 23 touchdowns, about one each three video games.

If Graham have been added to the Packers’ combine with out Nelson leaving, we would be skeptical of his Fantasy worth. But with Nelson out of the image, an entire bunch of crimson zone and finish zone targets are opening up in Green Bay. Rodgers has averaged over two passing touchdowns per sport and Graham shall be robust to double-cover together with Davante Adams, so there ought to be loads of alternatives to attain. 

No one can be stunned to see Graham come down with eight touchdowns in 2018. That alone qualifies him as a cinch top-12 Fantasy tight finish. 

But that is solely half of the equation – the perfect gamers on the place additionally amass yardage, one thing lacking from Graham’s sport for some time. He has 72 yards or fewer in 24 straight video games. Pair that with Rodgers’ lack of historical past connecting with tight ends and there is cause to consider Graham is a touchdown-or-bust tight finish with identify recognition.

Rodgers is a protected guess to common 34 move makes an attempt per sport since he is hit that complete up to now three years, all within the absence of a dependable run sport. With Nelson on the sector the previous two seasons, Rodgers appeared for him eight.1 instances per sport and focused tight ends 6.7 instances per sport. This figures to be the variety of targets up for grabs for Graham and whoever else the Packers add to their beginning lineup. Given this circumstance, one would possibly envision Graham enhancing on the six targets he had per sport final season with the Seahawks. Bumping him as much as a projected 6.5 targets per sport might be justified, and it could imply 104 on the season.

From right here it is a matter of which Graham exhibits up in 2018. Before final season Graham averaged a 65.three % catch charge and 12.6 yards per catch. Then 2017 occurred and he caught 59.four % of his targets for a measly 9.1 yards per seize. Seven drops undoubtedly contributed to these numbers, significantly since his targets have been down. An improved catch charge is not arduous to consider with Rodgers as his quarterback however the receiving common in all probability will not rise a lot. He’s not as quick as he as soon as was and his common depth of goal will in all probability be round 9 yards. Without being too aggressive, a 10.zero yard per catch common on a 61.5 % catch charge is simply.

Early projection for Jimmy Graham: 64 catches, 640 yards, eight touchdowns. 

That would have given him a No. 6 end amongst tight ends in all 2017 codecs, which is correct about the place he ought to be ranked heading into 2018 drafts.

Here’s the factor, although – numerous Fantasy followers are going to see Graham in Green Bay and go ga-ga for him. Let them. By the time the draft passes and the remainder of free company shakes out, Graham’s worth will settle in nearer to Round 7. Those who’re hanging on to Graham’s previous will take him in Round four or 5. Their mistake, not yours.

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