Breaking news folks! Well, look, there’s really nothing else going on at the moment around the NFL, so why not embellish a bit with the first big news story related to fantasy football since New England targeted week five for Rob Gronkowski‘s season-ending injury. What is labeled a “groundbreaking” decision, an arbitrator has denied Jimmy Graham‘s request to officially be declared a wide receiver under the NFL’s franchise-tag rules. No word on what exactly they are going to be building after this groundbreaking ceremony, but my guess is, it’ll be a Great Pyramid of Giza-sized statue of Roger Goodell.
While there are obvious ramifications for the Saints, we’re here to discuss how this affects fantasy football. I actually touched upon this (legal touching, the best kind of touching they say, or the worst, depending which state you reside in) in the 2014 Tight End Rankings, however, much of what was pontificated upon is now moot. So while on the surface this seems like something that wouldn’t really have much of an impact for us fantasy owners, as everything remains status quo, this does set a precedent for other tight ends in the future, guys like Julius Thomas, Charles Clay, and perhaps even Eric Ebron… tight ends who will probably line up either at the slot or wide-out position for a majority of snaps. So no wide receiver soup for you.
Of course, Graham and the NFL Players Association can appeal the decision within 10 days. Here’s the statement released by the NFLPA:
“The NFLPA will review with Jimmy Graham the decision from Arbitrator Stephen Burbank which permits the player to be designated as a tight end for Franchise Tag purposes. We will advise Graham of his options and carefully determine next steps in this matter… We will also continue to assist Graham and his representation as necessary to help the player reach a fair long-term deal with the New Orleans Saints.”
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I’m no lawyer, but that statement reads like they aren’t expecting a reversal in the arbitrator’s decision. And so it goes. While it would have been nice to have positional flexibility this season, next year and the years after that, the tight end position, in terms of fantasy, would be watered down while the wide receiving depth would get deeper and deeper, something I always love to hear. While I can’t say whether or not this change in fantasy football would have been a positive or a negative, today’s ruling means that I don’t have to care. Which seems nice. So thanks, I guess.