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Rob Gronkowski: Dynasty Buy?

Rob_Gronkowski2

The recent reports on Rob Gronkowski’s health haven’t been very positive.  Not only had he endured a fourth surgery on his left forearm as well as an infection that developed from the multiple operations, but he now has a procedure on his back scheduled for tomorrow. I’m sure many dynasty owners have read the reports on Gronk over the past few months and grimaced.  Every time I see updates on the talented tight end however, I smile.  Not because I wish him harm, but because due to his recent injuries he is finally becoming attainable in dynasty leagues.

Over the past two seasons, Gronkowski has become one of the most untouchable commodities in fantasy football.  His dynasty owners have been reluctant to even talk about trading the Patriots star tight end until the recent slew of injuries.  I believe the window to acquire Gronkowski is open.  In fact, right now is the best chance to trade for him since his rookie year and in my opinion, fantasy owners need to take notice and take advantage before that window closes.

Gronkowski was relatively unknown (except to dynasty owners) before the Patriots made him the second tight end chosen in the 2010 NFL draft.  He burst onto the scene by catching 42 passes for 546 yards and ten touchdowns during his rookie year and finished the season ranked fifth among fantasy tight ends in standard scoring leagues.

After catching five touchdowns in the first three weeks of the 2011 season, fantasy owners could no longer afford to trade for the Patriots star pass catcher.  Gronkowski had one of the best fantasy seasons ever by a tight end. He caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns and added 17 more receptions for 258 yards and three scores in three playoff games.  He was the best fantasy tight end in 2011 and by this point last off-season, had become untradeable to most dynasty owners who had him.

Last year brought more of the same for Gronkowski’s owners when he was on the field.  In just 11 games, he caught 55 balls for 790 yards and 11 more touchdowns.  He ended the 2012 season as the second highest scoring tight end in standard leagues, less than ten points behind Jimmy Graham who played in 15 games.  In fact, every top 15 tight end in 2012 played at least 15 games and Gronk still outscored nearly every one of them.

To completely understand the historical significance of Gronkowski’s career thus far, I compared his three year stretch to the best stretches of some of the finest tight ends since fantasy football started a couple of decades ago.  Fantasy points per game were calculated using standard scoring. (6 points/TD, 1 point/10 receiving yards)

 

Years

Age

Games

Catches

Yards

Yards/G

TD

TD/G

Fantasy PPG

Rob Gronkowski

10-12

21-23

43

187

2663

61.9

38

.884

11.49

Antonio Gates

04-06

24-26

46

241

2989

65.0

32

.696

10.68

Tony Gonzalez

99-01

23-25

47

242

2969

63.2

26

.553

9.64

Shannon Sharpe

96-98

28-30

47

216

2937

62.5

23

.489

9.18

Dallas Clark

07-09

28-30

46

235

2570

55.9

27

.587

9.11

Jimmy Graham

10-12

25-27

46

215

2648

57.6

25

.543

9.02

Vernon Davis

09-11

25-27

48

201

2671

55.6

26

.542

8.81

Jason Witten

10-12

28-30

48

283

2983

62.1

17

.354

8.33

Not only has Gronkowski had the best three year run of any tight end over the past 20 years, he did it during the first three years of his career and is the first tight end in NFL history to catch at least ten touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.  It is also worth noting that each one of the three year stretches for every other player on this list occurred when the player was in their mid-to-late twenties – Gronk turned 24 in April.

Due to the 38 touchdowns he’s hauled in since being drafted, Gronkowski has proven to be the premier tight end in fantasy football.  Only Randy Moss (43) and Jerry Rice (40) have ever caught more touchdowns in NFL history over their first three seasons.  He’s not just an elite tight end – he’s an elite pass catcher.

So if he is so elite, why would any fantasy owner consider trading him now?  Good question.  It’s simply because Gronkowski’s injuries are starting to become extensive and beginning to make some of his owners (some of which have begun to label him as injury prone) think he will never produce at an elite level again.

Gronkowski first broke his arm on November 18th against the Colts while blocking for an extra point attempt – that injury kept him out of the Patriots lineup until New England’s final regular season game on December 30th against Miami.  He came out of that contest unscathed; however, two weeks later in the Patriots opening playoff game against the Texans, he broke the same forearm (although it has been reported that the break occurred in a different place than the first).

Overall, Gronkowski has had four surgeries on his left arm and along the way, fought off what some have described as a relatively bad infection.  The latest reports on Gronkowski’s arm say if he recovers as expected, it shouldn’t keep him from starting for the Patriots in week one in Buffalo.  While these reports are positive, they certainly don’t sound as if he is out of the woods just yet.

To compound his recent arm problems, Gronkowski has a documented history of back issues going back to his college days in Arizona.  While the upcoming back surgery has been reported as minor and unrelated to the one he had while in college, any time a player goes under the knife it can be worrisome.  The procedure has many concerned Gronk will miss at least a portion of training camp and perhaps more.

I’m not a medical professional, so I can’t tell you Gronkowski is never going to be affected by the infection he has dealt with this off-season or miss games due to a broken bone, injured back or any other injury.  I’ll leave that type of advice to “The Dynasty Doctor,” Scott Peak.  Scott recently penned a very detailed article on Gronkowski’s medical prospects going forward.  If you haven’t read it, it’s surely worth your time.

What I can say with relative confidence is that if Gronk is able to sidestep these medical issues and remain relatively healthy over the next few years, he should continue to put up numbers that few ever have and give his fantasy owners a distinct advantage week-in and week-out.

Over the past few months, Gronkowski’s ADP has dropped consistently according to dynasty startup information gathered by DLF’s Ryan McDowell.  In January, Gronk’s ADP was 12 in startups and he was chosen as highly as fifth overall.  By May however, he had an ADP of 21 and was selected as low as 27 in one mock.  I would expect his ADP numbers to drop even more as we progress into the summer due to the latest information coming out of Foxboro.  Dynasty players are obviously becoming concerned about Gronkowski’s health.  If his owner in your league is one of those that are worried, now is the time to start negotiations in my opinion.

To be clear, I’m not telling you to buy low on Gronkowski (although if you can, by all means go ahead.) I’m simply telling you to buy.  Looking at May’s ADP information, players like Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin, Matt Forte, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald and Chris Johnson are all being drafted near Gronk.  In the right situation, I would trade any one of them (plus a replacement tight end) for him.

While I agree he has had his share of medical issues and is somewhat of a knucklehead off the field causing there to be a certain amount of risk associated with acquiring Gronkowski, his upside on the field is through the roof.

Like I stated earlier, dynasty owners haven’t had a chance like this to trade for Gronk since his rookie season.  The owner that has him on their roster in your league has most likely seen the reports on his arm and back.  I believe every savvy dynasty owner owes it to themselves to at least find out if he’s available. I’ll admit it’s a bit of a gamble to pay full price for Gronkowski or even trade for him at all.  In my opinion, the risk is well worth the potential reward.

Dan Meylor

Dan Meylor

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Dan is a jack of all trades but master of none.He has far too many hobbies (including writing the article you just read), is a die-hard Packers fan and can't wait to introduce his young son to fantasy football.Dan is a true believer that being a daily league player will make you a better dynasty owner.

Find Dan on Twitter at @dmeylor22
Dan Meylor
20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. mike_blahnik

    June 17, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Great perspective Dan. I smell opportunity as well!
    One data point that I think isn’t given here is that Gronk is going even lower than his DLF mock ADP in many real start-ups that I have seen in the last month. I think this is due to the fact that even the risk adverse owners will pony-up and grab Gronk once the top 15 RB, top 2 QB, top 10 WR, and Jimmy Graham are drafted in a mock draft….because they aren’t really responsible for holding his rights and hanging on through the next 12 weeks. In a 16 team start-up that I have going right now he fell to 36. I was sniped and grabbed Hernandez with the very next pick.

    This makes your case for acquiring him even stronger, in my opinion, but also shows Joe Average Dynasty is even more afraid of him than the DLF mocks indicate because of that psychological “what the heck” mindset mocks allow.

    P.S. I love the off-season mocks and truly appreciate them for the market-metrics they provide.

  2. ZLevitt23

    June 17, 2013 at 6:37 am

    A guy in my league just got him for Jordy Nelson and 1.07. I thought that was a steal.

  3. realABC

    June 17, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Just got him for Housler and a 2014 2nd!

    • Dan Meylor

      June 17, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Wow! When’s the court date? You ripped that guy off!

  4. Cy23

    June 17, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I would have MUCH preferred to see a “Now is the time to trade Gronk!” article viewable to the masses, and this article only viewable to Premium members.

    I haven’t been able to trade for Gronk myself, but I have seen trades go down. I would love to have him, but I don’t mind having Graham in some of my leagues instead.

  5. Chris_R

    June 17, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I’m a buyer, but I’m not giving up a guy like Dez to get him. He’s been coming off the board as the #3 or #4 WR in start ups and has shown to be healthy now. Now sure if it took a Chris Johnson a guy who doesn’t have many years left then sure, but a Harvin or Dez I’ll pass.

  6. smcguiga

    June 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Not sure I agree and definitely wouldn’t not give up guys like Harvin and Dez, this upcoming surgery will be the 7th!!!!! Of his young career…….7!!! I know four were related to same thing but that has got to be concerning….kid gets hurt and a bad back is VERY concerning…decent chance he starts season on PUP…..you can buy but get a deal or don’t do it

    • The Doctor

      June 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

      I think it’s lazy to just cite the number of surgeries he had as a concern. As you alluded to, he had multiple surgeries because of an infection. Infections can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t mean he’s “infection prone.” If anything, use this high “number” of surgeries to try and make him even cheaper.

      • smcguiga

        June 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        What’s lazy is ignoring 7 surgeries on 3 different areas of body and an obvious chronic back issue…..That would be lazy and foolish actually… I am stating facts not hearsay as I said if you can get a good deal for him then yes worth the risk but you need to get a discount here and I think a big one given his history…..very logical and not lazy at all dr

        • The Doctor

          June 18, 2013 at 5:50 am

          I never said to ignore them. I said you should properly identify which surgeries are related to injury risk moving forward and which are not. Not all surgeries are the same.

  7. Bird

    June 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Traded Gronk this off-season for DeMarco Murray and Dennis Pita…I thought I did pretty well there.

  8. Georgie

    June 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I, too, would not move Dez or Percy for Gronk. His surgeries ARE concerning and cannot be ignored. To do so would be careless. If you like Gronk, so be it. But to act like his infections and back issues aren’t a concern is foolhardy. If I can get him on the cheap, cool. No way would I pay premium prices though. Not now. Probably not ever. Just one owner’s opinion though…

  9. Brock

    June 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    No way I trade Dez for Gronk, and Gronk is about the closest thing to a mancrush that I have in FF. Harvin I would think about depending on my roster, but I don’t buy Harvin as a top 5 WR long term. I did buy Gronk in a 2QB league not too long ago. I gave up a lot of pieces, but none of them were starters, and all but one were aging pieces. Vick/Welker/Patterson/FDavis for Gronk/SidRice and a couple of scrubs. I was thrilled to get Gronk without giving up anyone elite in return

  10. DJ

    June 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I agree this story shoul have been told to the premium subscribers and not in public….

    • Jcube

      June 19, 2013 at 6:41 am

      premium retards would need for themselves.
      Who can’t think of this obvious consequences?
      just do your right, not your wrong

  11. Kyle

    June 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    “Players like Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin are being drafted near Gronk. In the right situation, I would trade one of them (plus a replacement tight end) for him.”

    LOL. No way.

    I have an opening in my league. Want to join?

  12. TradeHappy

    June 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Great article!! But no way would I trade Dez, Percy or even Morris
    for Gronk.

    • sixshooter

      June 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

      Totally agree. I think the problem with any potential Gronk deal in a competitive league is that the Gronk owner(s) are likely the same owner that drafted him and therefore have an attachment issue where they will not let him go for a guy like Cecil Shorts and a draft pick or two and those who are wishing to trade for Gronk are not willing to give up a guy like Bryant for a TE who is an injury risk right out of the gates at the start of the season possibly starting the season on PUP! I have not seen much movement with Gronk even in leagues that score 1.5 PPR for TE’s.

  13. ZLevitt23

    June 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Who is better long term Gronk or Graham?

    • sixshooter

      June 24, 2013 at 7:49 am

      It looks like this question is going to get answered for you in court!

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