I’ve heard it discussed by some of the brightest minds in Fantasy Football that Rob Gronkowski is perhaps the most valuable player in fantasy when healthy. Since it’s 2014, you’ll likely have people saying, “No way man, Jimmy Graham is better.” Maybe he was last year, but if you dig deeper – one can see that Gronkowski has the higher ceiling.
Let’s start with the stats:
While Jimmy Graham dominated with almost 19 fantasy points per game last season, the highest points per game total comes from Gronk in 2011. Receiving just 124 targets, Gronk scored more fantasy points than Graham did in 2013 with 144 targets. And Gronk didn’t just beat him, he scored 27.2 more fantasy points – that’s arguably a whole tier above him.
The next issue is his diminishing returns. As his injuries have become more prevalent, his production has suffered – dropping to 17.46 fantasy points per game last season.
It’s a possibility that Gronk’s production and efficiency dropped with the Patriots pass offense. In 2011, the Patriots ranked as the 2nd best passing offense. That dropped off to 4th in 2012 and 10th in 2013.
I expect the Patriots to be more prepared this season, as last season was a nightmare of sorts for them. They let go of Wes Welker, which seemed fine at the time – until the Hernandez saga took place and they were suddenly lacking options when Amendola’s injury history reared its ugly head. If anyone can get this offense back on track, it’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Injury Concerns and Age
Yes, Jimmy Graham doesn’t come with the same injury concerns that Gronk does. Graham has missed one game in the past three years and deserves his current spot as a 1st round pick. The question for me is where would Gronk be selected if he was able to stay healthy over the past two seasons? Top five? Dare I say top three?
Since 2011, only six non-quarterbacks have topped 330 fantasy points; Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy. That’s quite a list.
Obviously now, there are some injury concerns associated to Gronk. He has a history of back problems and suffered a season ending ACL tear. The good news is he’s still just 24 years old and seems to recovering from his injury quite well.
I’m not too concerned about Gronk’s injury because I know the Patriots will only let him play once he’s 100% healthy, as evidenced by their treatment of him after his back surgery last season. The Patriots are too good of a team to risk his health when they’re almost certain to win the AFC East. He’s too crucial to the offense to risk his health in meaningless games.
Once November roles around, a healthy Gronk will be lighting up box scores again.
Now that we’ve discussed his rare scoring ability and concerns, it’s time to discuss his price. Currently being drafted with the 10th pick in the 3rd round on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Gronk presents potentially huge value.
A very unique scoring ability at a coveted position, Gronk is probably more dynamic than the 27-year-old tight end currently being selected 9th overall. Even if he misses three or so games, Gronk is the kind of difference maker that wins championships at his current price.
If you can build a team that will almost certainly compete for a championship in December, Gronk is the investment that will push you over the top. I call him an investment because if you can survive the early weeks without him, he’ll be the big difference-maker come playoff time.