Football.com - everything football

Showdown: Jimmy Graham vs Rob Gronkowski

By



Two of the league's best battle for TE supremacy. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Two years ago, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham changed the landscape for fantasy football tight ends. But it's 2013, and we want to know who's the better buy this season.

We’ll start with Jimmy Graham. He played four years of basketball at the University of Miami, completed his double major in marketing and management and stayed for his fifth year to play football. He caught 17 passes in that one season. It was good enough for the Saints to take him with the 95th pick in the 2010 draft.

Strange Jimmy Graham fact: His first NFL touch was a three-yard run. That is his only NFL carry.

Graham almost doubled his college production as a rookie with 31 catches. It was in 2011 that he caught the NFL and the fantasy world on fire with a 99/1,310/11 line. He tied the Saints team record with 11 TD catches. Graham had four straight 100-yard games, which doesn’t happen often for wide receivers, let alone tight ends.

It says a lot that his 2012 season was a relative disappointment with just 85/982/9 to show for his efforts. He missed the most of two games and still finished in first at the tight end position. Graham was a player targeted in the late first or early second rounds of most fantasy drafts and will remain there this year.

Rob Gronkowski is a wild man. He’s had his share of crazy moments, the best being his “Yo Soy Fiesta” answer to an interview by a Spanish radio station after the AFC Championship game victory two years ago. He’s also really good at scoring touchdowns.

Rookie tight ends generally are bad fantasy bets. Yet, Gronk finished fifth in TE scoring in 2010 with a 10-TD season. He proved it was no fluke by staying on a double-digit TD pace for all three years of his NFL career.

Strange Rob Gronkowski fact: He also has one NFL career carry, which was more like a lateral. He scored a touchdown.

When Jimmy Graham had the No. 2 all-time single-season TE yardage season in 2011, Gronkowski was the No. 1. He led the NFL with 18 total touchdowns in 2011. In 2012 he missed five games with a broken forearm and still scored 11 touchdowns. He has 12 career two-TD games. Not bad, eh?

Picking a favorite out of the two players is pretty darn difficult. The advantage Graham has his health. He had a wrist injury all year and missed one game after an ankle injury. Gronk has major concerns about his forearm after recent reports that it may require a fourth surgery. You don't want to have enough surgeries on one body part to fill a punch card for a free one. 

You’re going to have to pay a high price to draft either guy in 2013, and either guy is going to give you a big advantage over the rest of your league. In the end though, not only is Graham’s the safer bet, but his ceiling isn't that far from Gronk's. Between the two, I want Graham. Now, the only issue is debating what you’ll lose in terms of a RB or WR that you could have taken with that pick.