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NFL Fantasy Football: Where to draft Jimmy Graham

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions

2. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

3. Dez Bryant, Cowboys

4. Jordy Nelson, Packers

5. Brandon Marshall, Bears

6. A.J. Green, Bengals

7. Julio Jones, Falcons

8. Alshon Jeffery, Bears

9. Antonio Brown, Steelers

10. Randall Cobb, Packers

11. Victor Cruz, Giants

12. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers

13. Michael Crabtree, 49ers

14. Roddy White, Falcons

15. Andre Johnson, Texans

16. Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings

17. Michael Floyd, Cardinals

18. Pierre Garcon, Redskins

19. Keenan Allen, Chargers

20. Torrey Smith, Ravens

TIGHT ENDS

1. Jimmy Graham, Saints

2. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

3. Julius Thomas, Broncos

4. Jordan Cameron, Browns

5. Vernon Davis, 49ers

6. Greg Olsen, Panthers

7. Dennis Pitta, Ravens

8. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

9. Jason Witten, Cowboys

10. Jordan Reed, Redskins

Updated: August 28, 2014 11:02AM



The big question in the first round of fantasy-football drafts isn’t when the run on running backs will end but when tight end Jimmy Graham will be taken.

Is he more valuable than any quarterback, given the depth at that position? Is he in line with any wide receiver because of the role he plays in the Saints’ offense?

The Broncos’ Peyton Manning was so far ahead of the pack at quarterback last season that even some regression could keep him first in scoring. And Calvin Johnson is so prolific and so integral to the Lions’ offense that he rates a slight edge.

But that’s it. Once they’re off the board, take Graham. He might have lost his grievance to be viewed as a wide receiver, but he ranks with the best at that position. His 211 standard-scoring points last season would have ranked fourth among wideouts, behind the Browns’ Josh Gordon, the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas and Johnson.

Here’s a preview of wide receivers and tight ends.

Wide receivers

They’ll start coming off the board more in the second round, and there probably will be a run on them in the third. But the supply will dry up quickly, and they’ll start to look the same. That’s why your focus should be on stockpiling running backs to fill your RB2 spot. You’ll have plenty of options for WR2. You even will find some on the waiver wire early in the season.

Sleeper: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings

You’re probably more familiar with his exploits on special teams (NFL-best 32.4 yards per kickoff return, two touchdowns last season). With Norv Turner running the offense, that will change. Turner turned Gordon into a star last season.

Bust: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

Michael Floyd is on the rise entering his third season, and Fitzgerald appears to be on the way down. He hasn’t reached 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, and Floyd figures to take away more touchdowns.

Rookie to watch: Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers

The Panthers are devoid of talent at wide receiver, giving the 6-5, 240-pounder a chance to contribute immediately. Though he isn’t the swiftest afoot, Benjamin has received rave reviews for his work on and off the field.

Supersleeper: Markus Wheaton, Steelers

Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are gone, and Wheaton has been playing with the starters throughout the preseason. He’s not big, but he’s fast, and his competition isn’t exactly elite (primarily Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey).

Tight ends

If there’s one player who can challenge Graham, it’s the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski. Remember, he set the position record for touchdowns in 2011 with 17, but injuries have limited him to 18 games in the last two seasons. He’s the biggest risk-reward tight end on the board. If you pass on Graham, Gronkowski and the Broncos’ Julius Thomas early, wait until late to fill the spot.

Sleeper: Jordan Reed, Redskins

He had a heck of a run midway through last season, catching 27 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns from Weeks 7 to 10. A concussion in Week 11 cost him the rest of the season. The team is deep at wide receiver, but Reed’s talent is evident.

Bust: Jason Witten, Cowboys

He never has been a big-time scorer, so don’t expect another eight touchdowns. Last season marked only the second time since 2008 that he had more than five. Plus, Witten’s catches (73) and yards (851) were his fewest since 2006.

Rookie to watch: Richard Rodgers, Packers

There’s no relation to Aaron Rodgers, but there is a relation between having an elite quarterback and being a quality fantasy option. He has started each preseason game.

Supersleeper: Andrew Quarless, Packers

He’s the most experienced of the Packers’ tight ends. If Rodgers stumbles, he might be best equipped to take over.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

Twitter: @JeffreyA22



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