If you miss out on owning Jimmy Graham, you are not going to have the highest-scoring tight end on your fantasy team. That is an unwritten rule fantasy owners are starting to accept.
Sure, you could make a case that a healthy Rob Gronkowski could give Graham a run for his money, but it is a distant memory as far as seeing Gronkowski make it through an entire season goes. If you can’t own Graham, it quickly becomes very dicey on finding that stud tight end. If you take one too early, you will miss out on adding key position players to your lineup. If you take a tight end too late, you better get comfortable owning a guy who will probably score you fewer points than your kicker each week.
The key to owning a tight end is to realize the inconsistency of the position in fantasy football. In standard scoring leagues, Vernon Davis finished as the second highest scoring tight end. Even though this is a very distinctive honor, Davis still scored 55 fewer points than Graham. Now Davis was banged up for a few games, but he had eight games where he scored nine or fewer points.
In comparison, Graham only had four games where he scored nine or fewer points. Even though you are going to use a high draft pick to get Graham, the consistency you are paying for is almost unmatched.
Even looking at some of the other big playmaking tight ends such as Julius Thomas, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Jordan Cameron, you still find that consistency issues for fantasy purposes are a common factor among the tight end position. Gonzalez was the fourth-highest scoring fantasy tight end, but he had 11 games where he scored nine or fewer points. Cameron also had 11 games where he scored nine or fewer points, and Witten wasn’t far behind with 10 such games.
This position is one of the most difficult to draft for, but if you realize that you will be facing consistency issues all year with your tight end, you will be less likely to rip all of your hair out by the end of the season. Sometimes your tight end will be the crutch of the quarterback and he will score three touchdowns in a game. Other games, he may not even receive a target.
Draft the player who gives your team the best chance to win, and don’t be afraid to tinker with your lineup at the tight end position.