Apr 10, 2008
After a few weeks of seeing RB Earnest Graham play, I thought he was a guy who, for a short period of time, can look good, but that the more he plays, the more the more his limitations would be exposed.
But he got better and better as the weeks went by. He ran hard, he ran physically, he was consistent, and he was more of a sustaining runner than Carnell Williams. He has some good downhill instincts and some power to him for a smaller guy, and he did a great job in the passing game. He looked a little like Emmitt Smith.
However, just because he was a fantasy gem and a great find in 2007, doesn’t exactly mean he’s going to be a nice pick in 2008. After all, this is a guy who had just 52 carries in three full seasons on the Bucs before last year. And after all, this is Jon Gruden we’re talking about. Gruden has no loyalties in his backfield and he’ll sign anyone, as he’s shown over the years and as he’s shown yet again this off-season. As soon as he picked up veteran Warrick Dunn I thought, uh-oh, that’s not good for Graham. Graham certainly understands this situation, and that’s why he’s in the early stages of a potential holdout. He’s making only $600,000, and he’s looking for a new deal. Maybe the Bucs pony up and make him happy, but with Dunn around, and with the draft littered with intriguing backs, maybe they don’t.
This is the kind of crap that makes fantasy football more of a challenge then ever. You could seriously make a definitive statement on Graham and you’d probably look like Nostradamus for at least half of the season. For example, here are two definitive statements that will likely be proven right at some point this year on Graham:
- He’s a 28-year old back who had only 52 carries in his career before the start of the 2007 season, and he only truly excelled for 7-8 weeks. So he’s still very unproven as a lead back and will be way overvalued in 2008.
- Graham may have languished on the bench for three years, but there’s a reason he stuck on the roster: he’s a good football player. He’s tough, reliable, durable, and productive. On a pretty good team, as the lead guy, he’ll likely produce again this year.
I’m inclined to go with #2, but I’m pretty sure the people who side with #1 will be proven right at some point, if only for ¼ of the season. So for a guy like Graham, you have to obviously monitor his situation closely as the season draws near. Is there a holdout or an ugly contractual situation? Is there a timeshare in the works? Are their bad vibes overall with the team? With a guy like Graham, the positives have better far outweigh the negatives because he is in fact still unproven and a little shaky. Even if the vibes are good, the advice here is to make sure you get good value with Graham. I’m thinking no sooner than the 4th round in a 10 or 12-team league, even though Graham was the 6th best fantasy back in the land the final seven games of 2008.