Don't overvalue Jimmy Graham
Mike Clay has taken to the airwaves to host a Pro Football Focus fantasy football show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). In addition to his strategy and insight, Clay has had the opportunity to bring in beat writers around the nation to provide an insider fantasy spin on the teams they cover.
On Monday, he spoke with Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune. Bell touched on Jimmy Graham’s impact on Russell Wilson, how Graham will perform individually, the Seahawks’ wide receivers and more. You can find Bell on Twitter @gbellseattle.
Speaking of Graham, he comes from a high-scoring and high-volume offense where he has had 85-plus catches in four straight years, with at least 880-plus yards and nine touchdowns. In this offense, should we expect a drop off?
“That’s about right,” Bell said. “Even he thinks he’s going to get 60-something catches instead of 85 or 90. Pete Carroll is not going to change his system that’s got him to two Super Bowls by one tight end coming in. It’s still going to be a run-based offense. Graham won’t have the huge numbers, but the entire offense will benefit from Graham being here.”
Our projections have Graham at 62 receptions for 736 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. These numbers will still render Graham a top-five TE1, but not the elite option Graham has been in recent seasons. He may be drafted too high based on his past production and the scarcity at the tight end position.
Graham’s Effect On Wilson
Although Russell Wilson’s rushing numbers were up in 2014, with over 800 rushing yards and six touchdowns, his passing and overall touchdowns were a career low. Can we expect those touchdown numbers to bounce back with Jimmy Graham in the mix?
“Seattle has nowhere to go but up,” Bell said. “They passed fewer times than anyone in the league last year overall and inside the 20. That’s why they traded for Jimmy Graham – for the red zone. As long as Wilson gets time to throw, with an offensive line in flux right now, he will throw it up to Graham. He is something Wilson hasn’t had in the NFL. I don’t know that Graham will get as many targets, but he’ll certainly get quality chances around the goal line.”
No Longer A Dynasty Diamond
There are rumors that Christine Michael might be on the roster bubble. The former second-round pick was a dynasty league darling just two seasons ago, but he has seen his stock drop dramatically. What about Michael’s short- and long-term outlook?
“He’s on the spot,” Bell said. “Offseason surgery on both hips, and it was peculiar that he went outside the Seahawks to do it. He fumbled the ball in the preseason opener. Robert Turbin is entrenched as the No. 2. Talent is undeniable but maturity issues have been a problem. I wouldn’t say his roster spot is guaranteed at all.”
Michael did not look himself in the Seahawks’ preseason opener, and he could be dealing with lingering issues from his hip surgeries. If he proves healthy and explosive again, he would make for an interesting free agent if the Seahawks release him at final cuts. Based on his potential opportunity on a new team, now is not the time to sell in dynasty leagues.
The Jumbled-Up Wide Receiver Corps
In the preseason opener, the Seahawks used five different wide receivers with the first-team offense. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse finished with nine first-team snaps each, Chris Matthews had six, Tyler Lockett had three, and Ricardo Lockette finished with two. So how does it all shake out atop the depth chart?
“I think Baldwin will remain the No. 1 and Kearse is the No. 2,” Bell said. “Tyler Lockett has made a move as the No. 3 and they’re using him in the slot in training camp a lot more than I expected. He’s turned out to be such a polished route runner. He’s moved himself into the first team and that will bump Baldwin outside more than he expected to be. Chris Matthews is still going to be a factor and he’s probably their No. 4 receiver right now.”
Although Lockett looked electric on his kick return touchdown in the preseason opener, it doesn’t look like he will be moving past Baldwin or Kearse this year. When the Seahawks go to 11 personnel, Lockett will work in the slot with Baldwin playing on the outside. However, Bell advised to keep an eye on Matthews too. He offers a size dynamic on the outside, and when he’s on the field, Baldwin will most likely man the slot in 11 personnel packages.
The Deep Threat
Paul Richardson is the forgotten man coming off an injury. When can he be expected back?
“He’s going to stay on the roster, but he’s going to start the season on the PUP list it looks like,” Bell said. “Everyone is talking about what an amazing comeback he has made. No one expects to see him until late October, but they love his speed and he’s faster than anyone on the roster.”
Richardson adds a speed dynamic to the offense, and before his injury he had started to see more targets. Richardson could become a weapon outside, and he remains a hold in dynasty leagues.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.