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Jimmy Graham to Bears: Fantasy Impact 


Former Packer Jimmy Graham is staying in the division to extend his prolific pass-catching career at tight end. He has signed with a fellow NFC North team in the Chicago Bears and will now catch passes from either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky.

The veteran tight end will look to revive his career on a team with a desperate need for tight end production. The deal is for two years, 16-million dollars. The 33-year-old has been on the decline in the past few years and is not the monster fantasy asset he was before. Does he still have fantasy value?

Let’s look at the fantasy impact of this move for Graham and his quarterback(s).

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Filling the Void

The Bears had virtually no tight end production in 2019, so Graham provides a veteran presence and hopeful red-zone target. The Bears TEs last year had HORRENDOUS production. A relatively unknown player named J.P. Holtz led the unit with 91 receiving yards on the SEASON.

An aging Graham is clearly a major upgrade from a unit that featured J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, and Eric Saubert combining for a measly 46 receptions, 69 of 580 total team targets, and 416 total yards. The total receiving yards for this group was flat-out abysmal, as guys like Adam Shaheen and Jesper Horsted had 74 and 87 yards receiving on the season, numbers that some other receivers could accumulate in one half of football.

As mentioned before, none of the six tight ends who played snaps for the team in 2019 had more than 91 yards receiving on the season. To add to that, the highest number of receptions on the unit was 14 while the highest number of targets was 24 (both Trey Burton). Burton was supposed to fill the TE void on the Bears, but could only play eight games due to a calf injury in 2019. His tenure with the team has been disappointing through two campaigns in the Windy City as he has only amassed 68 receptions, 653 yards, and six touchdowns.

Chicago was in dire need of a TE and Graham should provide temporary relief/assistance for the next couple years before the team needs to draft another one.

 

Does He Still Have Fantasy Value?

The short answer is yes because of the Bears’ need for a TE that can help the offense. Graham is a good addition to this team because of his experience, not to mention the fact that he was elite at one point in his career. Although he may seem washed-up at this point based on his modest Packers tenure, it's hard to find a tight end that was extremely productive with Aaron Rodgers at QB (Jermichael Finley and...?).

To be honest, the former Packer had one of his worst statistical campaigns in 2019, finishing with 38 receptions (second-lowest in career), 447 yards (second-lowest in career), three touchdowns, 2.4 receptions per game, and a meager 27.9 yards per game. When you compare Graham’s stats to the Bears TEs unit though, he nearly matches up to the entire so-called unit.

However, today’s edition of the TE is not the same dominant one from the Saints who finished with 1,000-yard seasons. His two previous seasons in Green Bay reflect his decline in play and fantasy value as he ended his Packers tenure with 93 receptions, 1,083 yards, and five touchdowns. That being said, expect competition with the other TEs on the team for snaps, role solidification, and production.

One encouraging bit of info that fantasy owners may find delightful is the fact Graham drew 18.2 percent of team targets inside the 10 and saw 16 total targets overall in the red zone in 2019. If anything, Graham's fantasy value on the Bears could come down to his red-zone prowess/touchdowns as opposed to yards and receptions.

The 33-year-old finished fifth in receiving on Green Bay in 2019, chewing up 60 of 94 TE targets on the team, good for nearly 64 percent. He also secured 38 of the 63 receptions made by tight ends on the team, which includes Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan. Though his efficiency and production certainly remained low, the North Carolina native was still the most valuable piece on Green Bay’s TEs unit.

 

Effect on Other Bears

Graham may not affect Bears skill players much at all. In fact, the former Packer may be the one trying to fight for snaps. Yes, he provides a great veteran presence and all, but the Bears have more than capable receivers if not TEs.

At this point, WR Allen Robinson II remains the clear-cut top receiving option on the team. He finished with 98 receptions, 1,147 yards, seven touchdowns, and drew 154 of 580 total team targets (26 percent). For a receiver who finished sixth in the league for receptions and third in the league for targets along which put him with the likes of Julio Jones and Michael Thomas (Next Gen Stats), there is simply no way an aging tight end will interfere with that ridiculous production.

The second-leading receiver on the team was WR Anthony Miller, who finished with a stellar 52 receptions and 656 yards in his second season. He also had 85 targets. With 239 of 580 targets combined, Robinson and Miller should not be affected by Graham’s presence considering their solid roles on the team.

The player whose fantasy value is most weakened is Trey Burton. As mentioned before, the Philly Special orchestrator has struggled to breakout on the Bears and will certainly be looking to have a stellar season in 2020. The addition of a veteran like Graham means the two will likely compete for the TE1 role on the team. If they are both utilized equally, neither may have the chance to breakout and accumulate incredible fantasy production, thus weakening both of their fantasy values overall.

 

2020 Outlook

Because he is a proven player, Graham’s fantasy value can stay in the low-flex tier as he will likely retain a similar role in Chicago as he did on Green Bay. Even though he’s not a household name among the elite fantasy TEs anymore, it’s safe to assume he will be the main tight-end target on the team. This is because Trey Burton will be fighting for snaps. When looking at him in the rankings, the former fantasy star may not even be a top-20 or top-30 fantasy TE due to a multitude of factors which include age, competition for snaps and role, and building chemistry with a new QB.

At this point, the stats spell everything and the 33-year-old is on the decline. He is no longer the TE you want on your team in redraft leagues and you are still taking a gamble on him in hopes of decent production if you draft him as a second TE or backup too. It’s best to be cautious with the aging player and understand his glory days in fantasy are well behind him. There are certainly other tight ends you could draft that are younger and well-suited to provide better, consistent fantasy production weekly.

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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More