Jimmy F-ing Graham. I stared at the monstrous line (6-100-1) and the sub-5% ownership and thought to myself “How did I miss this?”
This is a fairly standard practice for me every Sunday night. I sift through GPP leaderboards and examine rosters that are contending for incredible amounts of money and I try to assess the lineups to see if I can find something I hadn’t thought of previously. Sometimes it’s fruitless. I was on the wrong combinations or players that I would never have considered (Hello Trevor Siemian!) went nuts, but often times there is something I can take with me to the next week. In Jimmy Graham’s case, there was a very clear piece of evidence I hadn’t weighted strongly enough in our projections and it was right in front of me the whole time.
Jimmy Graham spent the offseason recovering from a ruptured patellar tendon. There were questions about the length of the recovery and if Graham would even be the same player he was before the injury. As training camp opened, the reports on Graham were occasional, but largely positive. It was difficult to tell if it was usual training camp optimism or if Graham was ahead of schedule. He didn’t return to practice until very late in the preseason and his ADP in seasonal leagues kept falling. He was largely written off in Fantasy as the range of outcomes was wide and the perceived ceiling was still relatively low. Even if Graham did beat all the odds to return to form after a major surgery, the Seahawks relatively low volume passing attack wasn’t one that was going to generate much Fantasy appeal. This was the narrative created around Graham.
To be fair, this was a worthy narrative. The list of players that recovered from this particular injury to play well again is almost non-existent. The Seahawks do spread the aerial attack around and the upside on the whole is probably limited. However, he went from 21% to 82% of the snaps in Week 1 to Week 2 and caught three of four targets for 42 yards. It was a measly 11.4 percent of the targets and barely noticeable when working on projections. However, with a matchup against the 49ers on deck and Graham’s price tag hovering around the minimum, the giant increase in snap percentage should’ve been an indicator to at least consider Graham at a position where upside is difficult to find. I never did and when I saw the play work, I was upset with myself. It’s one thing not to play someone, but to not even consider Graham I had failed at my job.
With the frustration setting in, I started scanning snap changes from Week 2 to Week 3 in hopes of finding the next breakout candidate.