There are few NFL players more polarizing than Rob Gronkowski. The offseason exploits of “Gronk” are well-known. From a 9000 dollar bar tab in 2013 to chugging beers while shirtless after the Patriots’ dramatic Super Bowl comeback victory over Atlanta, Gronkowski has embodied the term “living it up”. Aside from these question marks on his character, some would say Gronk is a huge injury risk and while they have an argument, we know in fantasy football that it is best to focus on what the most likely outcome will be.
Rob Gronkowski and His Injury History
Beginning with his college career, Gronk strained his back between his junior and senior year. He missed the entire season due to the injury and fell midway into the second round before Bill Belichick pounced on him. After his emergence as the most dominant TE in the league in 2011, he broke his forearm in 2012 and was forced out of 5 games. He returned for the postseason but broke the same forearm again and left the contest. The injury persisted into the next year and kept him inactive until week 7 of 2013. Also in 2013, Gronk was having a nice season but tore his MCL and ACL midway through the season and missed the last seven games.
Fast forward to 2016 and Gronk misses the first two games with a hamstring issue and then gets lit up against the Seahawks with a punctured lung. He was cleared to play three weeks later but lasted only one quarter before leaving for the season with a back injury.
In four of his seven seasons, Gronk has played in 15 or more regular season games and 11 in another. In fantasy land, that’s plenty. In those five seasons, he averaged 992 yards and that includes his rookie season where he only hit 549 yards. That may look like a weak season by comparison but he scored 10 touchdowns in his first year. Gronk has 68 touchdowns in only 88 games played, so he is getting .77 TDs per game. That is insane! He also sports three seasons of 70 or more catches and by the way, plays with the GOAT at quarterback.
Gronk essentially gives you WR2 yardage production with WR1 touchdown upside. He now gets to play alongside Brandin Cooks who will command attention from the safety on every snap. This means opposing defenses will be looking at 2nd and 3rd options to try to slow down the 265-pound animal.
How About His Health?
Prior to the team’s first official practice of training camp Coach Belichick said: “He has no limits that I’m aware of.” It was also reported that Gronk and Tom Brady exhibited more of the excellent chemistry that they have shown in past years. Against the Jaguars in practice on August 8th, Gronk caught seven passes and six of which were for touchdowns. Enough said.
Gronk played in his first preseason game since the 2012 season on August 19th and even though he did not see a target, it was reported by Hayden Bird of Boston.com that Gronk showed no sign of lingering injury effects.
Rob Gronkowski’s current ADP is 2.08 in PPR. He sits right about where the elite receivers with proven track records are off the board. I believe this is a perfect spot to add him. The turn of 2nd and 3rd rounds in 10 or 12 team leagues leaves you deciding how much you trust Lamar Miller after back-to-back disappointing outputs. You have Brandin Cooks and Terrelle Pryor sitting there but do you really trust them more than Gronk? T.Y. Hilton has a bad offensive line. What about Doug Baldwin? How much more upside does he have than say Alshon Jeffery at 3.02 or even Allen Robinson at 4.08?
Gronk is the clear TE1 in all formats and it is not close really. Injury concerns for Reed, lack of other weapons for Kelce, and quarterback play for Olsen limit their weekly upside. History shows that Gronk is in line for a healthy season and combining that with quality receivers and the best quarterback can only lead to fantasy glory.