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How to handle Jimmy Graham vs. Bears in Week 1 fantasy football

Jimmy Graham injured his finger two weeks ago but returned to full participation in practice Tuesday, making him available for the Packers’ season opener against the Bears. We break down the fantasy implications.

New York Jets linebacker Avery Williamson breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham injured his finger in training camp two weeks ago and remained sidelined for a large part of the preseason. The last injury report coming from Green Bay indicates Graham fully participated in practice Tuesday and Wednesday after being limited on Monday. He is ready to play the season opener against Chicago on Thursday evening.

After an average first season in Green Bay last year (55 receptions, 636 yards), Graham should improve his efficiency and production in 2019. He was heavily used as the second option in the passing game, but he could only score two touchdowns, something almost unacceptable for a tight end with a wideout profile such as his. He bested most of his numbers from 2017 in Seattle, but even with that, he fell short of his career averages.

It is reasonable to expect a bounce-back from Graham. The Packers will feature a new offense under Matt LaFleur and if he clicks with Aaron Rodgers good things might be coming Graham’s way. He will most probably finish the year with a few more touchdowns and he will remain one of the go-to options on offense.

Fantasy Impact: Having no availability concerns around him, Jimmy Graham is the best tight end of Thursday’s one-game slate. With Chicago’s Trey Burton questionable (and most probably limited even if he plays), he should be the first option at the TE position if you enter a contest with rosters limited to this game.

Considering the full 16-game schedule, though, Graham shouldn’t make your lineup. His price ($3,600) and matchup (against the 10th-best defense against TE) are not valuable nor favorable. Also, he could see his catching affected by any potential issue still going on with his injured finger, limiting his upside. Fade him in favor of better value player at the position.

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