Last season, Rob Gronkowski was the top tight end in Fantasy Football to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Gronk has established himself as an elite Fantasy tight end ever since his second season in the league in 2011. He scored 241 points, and that was with teammate Aaron Hernandez finishing with 138 Fantasy points.Embed from Getty Images
Since then, he has finished in the top two every season he’s played. Of course, that is barring his 2013 season which was prematurely ended Week 7 due to an ACL tear.
So should you ride The Gronk Party Bus again this season? Is there any reason not to draft him? Let’s take a quick look at his 2015 Fantasy Football performance before answering that question.
Rob Gronkowski: 2015 Fantasy Football Review
Gronk finished the 2015 season with 72 receptions, 1,176 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That translated to 184 Fantasy points.
He finished with fewer receptions than the previous year and fewer touchdowns, but his yards per catch increased drastically from 2014 (from 13.7 to 16.3). His yard totals were boosted due to five catches of 40 or more yards in 2015, which based on his career stats is an anomaly.
Not since 2011 has Gronkowski caught more than one.
However, touchdowns are the money makers in Fantasy Football. And in seasons where Gronk has played at least 11 games, he’s never finished with less than 10 touchdowns.
Fantasy Points Per Season
|2010||115 points||#5 TE|
|2011||241 points||#1 TE|
|2012||145 points||#2 TE|
|2013||83 points||#17 TE*|
|2014||184 points||#1 TE|
|2015||184 points||#1 TE|
*Missed 9 games due to an ACL tear
Despite the fact that there is some fluctuation in his Fantasy numbers, one thing that hasn’t changed is that he is consistently one of the top tight ends at the end of the season.Embed from Getty Images
We know that Gronkowski is the key to this offense being successful. But the Patriots added some new tight ends in the offseason, so could he lose a few receptions each week?
Once again, the Patriots are facing the possibility of starting the season without Tom Brady.
The cause of course is Deflategate. The latest news from the front is that the 2nd US Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling from a lower judge which has essentially reinstated the four-game suspension that was originally imposed by the NFL.
Brady of course is going to appeal, but the odds aren’t looking good for him right now. Brady’s potential absences has a direct effect on Gronk’s Fantasy value. While Gronk may be elite, he can’t throw the ball and catch it.
Gronk will have to rely on backup Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie Jacoby Brissett. Each are unproven entities at the NFL level.
As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots have also made some key roster moves by bolstering their tight end position. The newest tight end addition is former Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett.
Clay Harbor was also added in March.
Now if you have read much of my previous season’s work, you’ll know I have a thing for Marty B. Matthew Berry has a love affair with RGIII and Torrey Smith, and I have Martellus Bennett.
Bennett was a strong producer during his time with the Bears. While in Chicago, he averaged 69 receptions, 705 yards , and five touchdowns per season. That’s in spite of missing five games last season.Embed from Getty Images
Harbor won’t be much of a factor, but the Patriots may need to implement more two-tight end sets if Julian Edelman struggles to return to form. Gronk should get most of the work, but his owners could still be annoyed when Bennett or Harbor are only targeted once all game and that target turns into a touchdown.
Last season, tight end Scott Chandler hauled in four touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
It’s the addition of Bennett, and the possible (likely) absence of Brady, that has me much lower on Gronkowski than usual.
Yes, he’s a fabulous player, but there are a lot of mitigating factors this season that make his value less predictable.
I may be a little biased because of how much I believe in Bennett , but I really do see him eating into Gronk’s receptions and touchdowns.
Bennett (6-foot-7, 273 pounds) is a monster target. Just two seasons ago, he was the most targeted tight end in the league and finished the season with 90 receptions.
Unfortunately for him, he had to rely on Jay Cutler. Now he has an upgrade at quarterback, even if Brady is closing in on 40.
Bennett’s signing alone leads me to believe that the Patriots are trying to ease some of the load from Gronk’s shoulders. It seems like every season they attempt to bring in a Robin to Gronk’s Batman (Chandler, Tim Wright, etc).
Unfortunately, none of those guys have exactly panned out.
Bennett has the best odds of complimenting Gronk if Bennett can stay healthy. I also believe he has the ability to cut into Gronk’s production more than the other tight ends signed to the Patriots over the last few seasons.
Head Coach Bill Belichick holding Gronkowski out of practice further suggests that the Patriots may be paring down his workload this season. While there are other players with higher injury risks on the field, Belichick hasn’t become one of the best coaches in the league by being short sighted.
It makes sense that he’ll want to keep one of his star players healthy for as long as possible.
Gronk’s current ADP has him being drafted in Round 1. For me, that’s just too steep of a price to pay.
Now, that isn’t to say that there is any tight end better than Gronkowski. If he’s healthy for the whole season and Brady isn’t suspended, he’s basically a wide receiver in terms of Fantasy production.
But you have to be absolutely comfortable rolling the dice on him as your first-round pick.
While there are no guarantees that any pick in any round will work out, wide receivers like Antonio Brown are viewed to be about as safe as you can get.
There’s a lot that could prevent Gronk from having the Fantasy season you were expecting, so just keep that in mind.