Even with QB Drew Brees at the helm and a number of respectable receiving targets, TE Jimmy Graham is one of the league's most difficult matchups and the biggest key to New Orleans' offense. Coach Sean Payton does a great job of moving Graham around the formation to dictate matchups against slower linebackers or smaller defensive backs. He led all tight ends with a plus-19.8 receiving grade while also topping the position with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. No other tight end came close to his production this season.
Graham pairs with running back Darren Sproles as two movable chess pieces who must be accounted for by opposing defenses. Both players are as efficient in their more traditional positioning as they are out wide or in the slot, making game-planning a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Graham's ability in the red zone could be the X factor for New Orleans, as the Saints will often split him out wide with an option to run a slant or a fade that is nearly impossible to defend. While Brees is one of the league's best at spreading the ball around to his many options, Graham is clearly his favorite and most important target.