Jordy Nelson deserved to win the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award in 2016, but Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham could have easily taken home the award. Coming off a terrible knee injury in 2015, Graham rebounded for a solid season in 2016 with 65 catches for 923 yards and six touchdowns on 95 targets. He finished as the No. 2 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues, and his receiving yards were his best total since 2013. Graham had seven games with at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league, and we hope he's even closer to his old self this year. Graham should be considered a top-five Fantasy tight end in all leagues, and we recommend drafting him around Round 5 in most formats. It's a great thing that Graham is back to 100 percent, and he should continue to be one of the elite Fantasy tight ends this season.
Graham could get more targets at the goal line this year, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Graham was targeted a team-high 20 times in the red zone last season but only three came inside the 10, where he scored once. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the plan is to "[g]ive him more opportunities," and that Russell Wilson needs to continue to trust that the 6-7 Graham, who has a huge catch radius, is open even when he looks covered. "If you're a fantasy guy, you're probably not really excited about what was happening (last year)," Bevell said. "He's in there. We're working to get him the ball. Can we be better at it? Yes. That is absolutely what we're trying to do. We want to make him a big part of things."
Graham is down to 260 pounds after playing last season at around 280, ESPN.com's Sheil Kapadia reports. While he didn't look out of shape last season, Graham apparently tacked on some unwanted weight while recovering from patella surgery. He still finished third among NFL tight ends with 923 receiving yards, but he was often absent from practice during the week, and there have been reports all offseason that he produced that total while playing at far less than 100 percent strength. The 30-year-old tight end said himself that he feels "almost a hundred times better" than he did during training camp last year. Graham is locked in as one of the top options at his position, with less than a handful of players offering comparable ceilings.
Graham made a couple of red-zone catches for touchdowns during Friday's practice, Gregg Bell of the News Tribune reports. Seeing Graham utilized in the red zone during drills prompted reporters to ask offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell how to get Graham more involved near the goal line in 2017. "Give him more opportunities," Seattle's offensive coordinator said. As the team's play caller, Bevell has some say in giving Graham more red-zone opportunities.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Graham is not in any pain and feels the best he has in years, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reports. Despite spending last offseason rehabbing from a torn patella, Graham re-established himself as one of the NFL's top receiving threats at his position, catching 65 passes for 923 yards and six touchdowns (on 95 targets) in 16 regular-season games. He was listed on the injury report with a knee issue for much of the year, and he admitted in January that he barely practiced all season. Finally back to full health and increasingly comfortable in Seattle's offense, Graham could make a bid for the kind of stat lines he posted while playing with Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Graham admitted at last weekend's Pro Bowl that he "barely practiced" during the 2016 season, Liz Mathews of USA Today reports. After suffering a torn patellar tendon in Week 12 of his first campaign in Seattle, Graham faced an uphill battle to regain even a semblance of his former standing among the top tight ends in the NFL. Indeed, he didn't make an appearance last preseason and earned just 17 of 82 offensive snaps in the 2016 season opener. Ramping up his workload as the weeks ticked by, he notched the first of three 100-yard efforts in Week 3 and scattered six end-zone visits throughout a complete 16-game slate. The preceding was possible due to Graham's regular appearances on the injury report, typically due to non-injury, suggesting that rest was the recipe for his success. There's no telling if this is his high-water mark as a Seahawk, but he will turn 31 in November, meaning he could be hard-pressed to replicate a 65/923/6 line due to a combination of his age and medical history.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||@Green Bay Packers||23||7.89|
|2||09/17||San Francisco 49ers||19||7.25|
|5||10/08||@Los Angeles Rams||6||5.25|
|7||10/22||@New York Giants||21||7.41|
|12||11/26||@San Francisco 49ers||19||7.25|
|15||12/17||Los Angeles Rams||6||5.25|
|3 Year Avg||98||66||806||6||43||12.21||116|