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Who To Draft: Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski? (2012)

Posted by in Who To Draft on August 27th, 2012 | Comment »

Jimmy Graham vs. Rob GronkowskiWhich TE do I draft first? Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski?

I expect Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski to go in the beginning of round 2. I think these players do deserve to go where they’re getting drafting. A lot of people are saying these players are getting overdrafted. I disagree. After Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Julio Jones, I put both Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham over any other wide receiver. Both will have over 1,200 receiving yards and at least 8 TDs.  In 2011, both Graham and Gronkowski had over 1,300 receiving yards and over 10 TDs. Gronkowski edged Graham out in both categories: 1,327 yards and 17 TDs compared to 1,310 yards and 11 TDs.

2011 Statistics

ROB GRONKOWSKI (16 games)
90 receptions, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs (124 targets)

JIMMY GRAHAM (16 games)
99 receptions, 1,310 yards, 11 TDs, (149 targets)

2012 Fantasy Rankings

NFL.com’s composite rankings has Ron Gronkowski ranked #13 and Jimmy Graham ranked #15 with Julio Jones in between. Yahoo has Jimmy Graham ranked #11 and Rob Gronkowski #13 with Larry Fitzgerald in between. Very interesting.

2012 Fantasy Outlook

The bottom line is you can’t miss with either of these guys with an early second round pick. You have to take them over the top WR and RB in the next class after the top 5 RBs, top 5 QBs, and top 3 WRs are off the board. If you’re sitting with the #14 or #15 pick in your fantasy draft, if Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski are there, you take them. I have them ranked #10 and #11 after Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson followed by Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones.

You can even make the debate that one of these guys is worth as high as as #7 behind Foster, Rice, McCoy, Rodgers, Johnson, and Brady. They don’t have the injury concerns that come with running backs, they get slightly less total yards than a #4 or #5 RB, but far outpace their TD numbers.

Now that we know where these guys should fall in the draft, who do you take if you have an opportunity to pick between these players? I am going to go with Jimmy Graham.

My concern with Gronkowski is that his TD numbers should drop from 17 to around 12 plus/minus 2. First, because teams and coaches will be more prepared for him this season, especially in the red zone. It’s not like the same doesn’t apply to Graham as well though. Another factor that has me liking Graham over Gronkowski is the addition of Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots offense, which will take more targets away from Gronkowski this year. Brady didn’t have another receiver outside of Wes Welker to work with. With Brandon Lloyd in the mix, 60-80 receptions and 1,000-1,200 yards will be taken away from the rest of the Patriots offensive production.

Graham, on the other hand, is Drew Brees’ top target in the passing game, followed by Marques Colston. Sproles is clearly the top backfield option, then Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are a distant fourth. With Meachem’s potential touches now going to the rest of the Saints offense, that should also provide a slight boost to Graham’s potential in 2012.  I can see Graham matching or exceeding his reception production even at a ridiculous 99 receptions, but I see a slight decline in Gronkowski’s receptions from 90 recpeptions to 80 receptions. I expect both players get about 10 TDs plus/minus 2. That puts them right behind Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson and just a hair ahead of Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald in my book.

And the fantasy pick is Jimmy Graham!

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