The Ripple Effect in Fantasy Football: Case in Point the Jimmy Graham Trade

National Football League logoThere have been a lot of big trades and free agency pick-ups in the NFL this off season. More than any I can remember in a long time and with so many players changing teams we’re going to have a lot of fun next summer on draft day trying to decide who to pick. Let me give you an example with just one trade: tight end extraordinaire Jimmy Graham from the Saints to the Seahawks. Simple enough, thumb right? Wrong!

First, will Graham be the same player in Seattle that he was in New Orleans? He had a slightly down year in 2014, but how exactly will he fit into the Pete Carroll run-heavy offense? Even if you think he’ll still be a top 5 tight end next season, what about his impact on the quarterbacks: Drew Brees and Russell Wilson?  Will Brees drop off without Graham, or will he still sling the ball but not depend so much on one player?  Will Wilson suddenly start throwing within the red zone? Will it cut down on the Seattle QB’s running and TD numbers? And I’m just getting started here.

At Seattle, will Graham have an impact on Marshawn Lynch’s value? Will Seattle run less with a big target like that downfield or throw when they get close to the goal line? You could also argue the other way that Graham will open up a defense for Lynch even more . . . but how often have the Saints had a top ten running back in the past five years? Not very often.

Meanwhile, on the Saints, does Graham’s departure help or hurt a suddenly emergent Mark Ingram? I think it might help, but who knows? Does Khiry Robinson get more passes thrown his way and then suddenly he becomes a factor in the New Orleans offense?

And don’t get me started on the impact on the wide receivers on both teams!  Do you expect Brees to be able to connect more to an aging Marques Colston, or does Brandin Cooks now suddenly get the bulk of the deep passes? Or will the Saints draft a wide receiver in the NFL Draft and make him a sudden star?

Meanwhile, over in Seattle, will Graham’s addition help or hurt guys like Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse? I guess it depends if you think Seattle will throw the ball more often in 2015. If they do, there’s a good chance they might see more targets, but again, when was the last time the Saints had a dependable (for fantasy purposes) wide receiver in the past five years?

And don’t forget that this could have an impact on the defenses and kickers of both teams: if the offense scores more points (or fewer) does it put more pressure on the defense? Will a kicker get more or fewer opportunities with a radically altered offensive scheme?

And that’s just the questions I have based on one little trade and there have been dozens of those this off season.  The 2015 NFL Fantasy Draft is going to be one of the greatest guessing games of all time.

Good luck!