Lost in all my draft prep last week was the fact that my favorite football player of all time, Rob Gronkowski, returned to the NFL after sitting out the season. Let’s take a quick look at what his fantasy value is in his new home.
After an injury-riddle 2018 campaign, Gronk sat out all of last season. There have been some hints that he would come out of retirement, but until last week it appeared unlikely.
The tight end informed the Patriots, who still owned his rights, that he was returning. New England was already dealing with tight cap space though so trading him remained the best option.
Gronkowski indicated he’d only accept a trade to Tampa Bay. Shortly thereafter the Pats sent him to the Bucs in exchange for a fourth-round pick in this weekend’s draft. It appears Gronk actually got one over on Bill Belichick.
The Patriots traded the 4th-round pick they got for Rob Gronkowski to move up to take TE Devin Asiasi.
Asiasi is the highest-drafted Patriots TE since Rob Gronkowski in 2010. pic.twitter.com/01rJNrA2rE
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 25, 2020
Before the 2018 health issues, Gronk finished first or second at tight end in fantasy points per game every year since his second season in the league. He averaged nearly 18 fantasy points per game during that span.
From The GetSportsInfo Podcast:
Some have expressed concerns about him being out of shape and vastly underweight, but there’s plenty to suggest the work has already begun to get his body ready for a return.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2020
Clearly at 31, Gronkowski is far from his prime. That said, reunited with Tom Brady and now entrenched in an offense loaded with weapons there is still plenty of fantasy intrigue.
The depth chart is crowded for the Bucs at the position and with O.J. Howard still on the team following the NFL Draft, Gronk’s targets could be limited.
As it stands, the Bucs are comfortable eating the salary cap hit of nearly $20 million and keeping tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Cam Brate and O.J. Howard. No realistic trade options surfaced, and TB wants to give Tom Brady all the matchup options he would need.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 26, 2020
Clearly Chris Godwin and Mike Evans will be the top two targets for Brady, but Gronk could emerge as the third choice. Expect him to definitely be involved around the red zone. It’s risky, but I currently view Gronkowski as back-end TE1 in redraft leagues. He’s not going to compete to be in the top 5 given out loaded the position is, but if healthy he’ll be a factor in fantasy.
As for Brady, Gronk’s arrival cements him into a top 10 spot in my rankings at quarterback entering the summer.