The Daily Illini

Fantasy Doctor: Gronkowski still best tight end option

Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots is tackled by Kareem Jackson of the Texans in the second half of the Patriots' 34-31 victory on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Houston.


Jimmy Graham is not the best tight end in the NFL.

What did I just say? Pause. Take a deep breath. Now turn on The Departed, grab your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and sit back for a full-on New England rant.

Jimmy Graham isn’t the best tight end in the NFL because Robert James Gronkowski is.

On Monday, Gronk was given the green light to play for the New England Patriots in their season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. You better get him on your fantasy team right away.

Gronk is entering his fifth season in the NFL. He has missed 15 regular season games over the last two seasons, including nine games last season, due to various injuries.

So how can he be the best tight end in the NFL if he was out for almost a full season’s worth of games from 2012-2014?

Because when Gronk has been in the game, he has been a force. Derrick Rose cannot really be declared the best point guard in the NBA because even during #TheReturn, he was not at his best (I know, sorry Chicagoans). When Gronk has been able to be on the field, his level of play is just as high as it was when he got hurt.

When Gronkowski was in last season, the Pats were an offensive force, averaging 32 points per game, in comparison to the 28 points they scored on average over the whole season. Gronk was an obvious boost to their offense.

In seven games last season, Gronkowski was able to eclipse most of his totals from his rookie season, in which he played all 16 games. At the rate he was going, if Gronkowski had played the whole season, he would have had more catches and yards than Jimmy Graham. Even as it was, with 39 catches and almost 600 yards, Gronk was gaining more than a yard more per catch than Graham. Those are the kind of stats that make fantasy owners salivate.

Not only did Gronk play well when he was in, he clearly affected the play of Tom Brady, one the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. Brady threw for 13 TDs during Gronk’s seven-game stint, more than half of his regular season total. Brady also had his three best games in terms of yardage output when Gronk was on the field. That’s not just Gronk’s fantasy stock going up, it’s Brady’s going up too.

I wonder if Gronk had something to do with that?

So what if he gets hurt again? Does that indicate that you can’t be the best player at your position in the NFL if you keep getting hurt? Gronk plays at 110 miles per hour and it isn’t unlikely that he will get re-injured at some point this season. For now, however, he’s too fast for linebackers and too strong for defensive backs and will certainly cause havoc in the defensive backfields of the Patriot’s opponents.

And what about his well-documented partying?

Don’t worry about it. The Patriots would have dealt with Gronk if it were inappropriate. The team already had an unfortunate experience with character issues in one of their tight ends, so I’m sure if Gronk was problem they would have dealt with it already.

Take advantage of Gronk while he’s healthy. He’s a top 15 fantasy starter (at any position) when he’s at his best, so snatch him up while you still have the chance.

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him @pbaileywells22.

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