The New Orleans Saints had a well-timed bye week in Week 7 with star tight end Jimmy Graham suffering a left foot injury in their last game, but he did not practice at all this week until a limited session on Friday and looks likely to be a game-time decision for Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Graham leads all NFL tight ends in receiving yards with 593, and he also has 37 receptions and six touchdowns so far this season despite going without a catch against the New England Patriots in Week 6 prior to being injured.
Graham’s fantasy owners will be awaiting official word on his status on Sunday and looking to adjust their lineup if he is declared inactive. There’s no realistic way to replace his production, but could Graham’s backup become a serviceable fantasy option for Week 8?
Ben Watson had three catches for 61 yards in Graham’s place against the Patriots, which not surprisingly tied his season-high in catches, was his season-high in yardage and also exceeded his catch total from the previous four games combined. Obviously Graham’s presence limits Watson’s playing time and production, and makes him unworthy of a roster spot in fantasy leagues under normal circumstances.
The Bills enter Week 8 allowing the second-fewest points to opposing tight ends (4.3 per game, ESPN scoring), but that is at least partially a product of allowing less than six targets per game (5.7) to the position as well as their vulnerability to opposing wide receivers (32.4 fantasy points per game, second-most in ESPN scoring). The Saints have an excellent pass offense and a solid group of wide receivers led by Marques Colston, but quarterback Drew Brees likes to spread the ball around and he’s unlikely to quit looking for his tight end simply because Graham is out or limited.
Watson’s appeal to fantasy owners in Week 8 (or perhaps beyond) is entirely dependent on Graham’s health, but for a Graham owner with six teams idle this week he could fast become a plug-and-play option in deep leagues as 1 p.m. Eastern time approaches on Sunday.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.