It seems like all off-season we had been waiting for the news about whether Rob Gronkowski would retire or not. Today, we finally heard definitively that he will indeed be hanging up his cleats. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about what Gronk’s behavior was like off the field, but he was inarguably one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. He finishes his nine year career with the ninth most receiving yards, tied for third in touchdowns, and the 10th most receptions among tight ends all time.
Gronkowski will be missed not just for the joy of watching him do his trademark “Gronk Smash” when he scored a touchdown, but also for his impact on our dynasty fantasy football teams. His retiring leaves large shoes for both the Patriots and fantasy owners to fill.
Let’s examine how the announcement impacts dynasty values.
Tom Brady, QB NE
Tom Brady seems to be one of the few players capable of fighting father time and actually winning. He continually sets new records for quarterback accomplishments at his age. However, that will be harder to do without one of his favorite targets in Gronkowski. Look at these splits courtesy of Rotoviz in regards to Brady in games where he had Gronk to throw to versus games without him since the tight end came into the league:
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As you can see, Brady takes a huge dip without one of his favorite weapons on the field. It’s hard to imagine that at age 42 this won’t have a sizable impact on “Tom Terrific.” Then again, betting against Brady always seems to be a sucker bet. In DLF’s latest Superflex ADP, Brady was the 24th quarterback off the board. If you’re a contender, that’s a great price. However, for anyone else, this may be a good time to cash out while you still can.
Julian Edelman, WR NE
What is there to say about Julian Edelman except noting that in the same year he was suspended for PEDS, he was named the Super Bowl MVP? I should also note Edelman was the WR11 in .5 ppr formats from when he returned in week five until week 16. To say he is still producing fantasy relevant seasons at this late stage of his career is a bit of an understatement. Perhaps that’s why he and Brady get along so well. That bromance is sure to continue for another season, with Edelman now be the unquestioned number one target in the Patriots passing game. At 33 years old, it does become a question of how much longer Edelman can keep this up. He was the 41st wide receiver off the board in the latest DLF ADP, but that price is sure to rise a bit with the news. Once again, if you’re rebuilding, Edelman is providing one last great sell window for you.
James White, RB NE
Barring any changes in the draft or free agency, James White currently profiles as the number two option in the passing game. You might be tempted to say another wide receiver on the team will take that title, but don’t forget White was already targeted 127 times last season. I don’t think anyone was expecting him to be the RB1 he was for fantasy owners last season, but with this news, maybe regression isn’t going to hit him quite as hard as we all thought. White found himself the RB33 in the latest ADP and just like the others, I’d expect that to rise after this news.
Sony Michel, RB NE
Personally, I can’t imagine the news having much impact on Sony Michel. Michel was very limited in the passing game where he saw a total of 11 targets. It’s possible he may see more red zone looks as a result of Gronk’s absence, but I can’t see Michel moving much past his current third round startup evaluation.
Phillip Dorsett, WR NE
Phillip Dorsett recently re-signed with the Patriots and I’m pretty sure no one really made anything of it. Granted, he was with the Patriots all last season and only put up 290 yards and three touchdowns. Still, I believe it’s being ignored that he scored two touchdowns for the Patriots during the post-season run and possibly built some trust with Brady. As it stands, he is currently the second wide receiver on the Patriots depth chart. He wasn’t even ranked in DLF’s latest ADP, but is certainly worth a flier until we know more about what the passing attack will look like this year.
I’m looping these two players together because both seem to have their supporters in the fantasy community, despite not having shown much on the field. Currently, they both have a path to targets in the passing game of the Patriots. The question is how much will they be used and how quickly will they be replaced? They are currently worth rostering in deep leagues, but if Dorsett has minimal value I wouldn’t be spending anything more than a waiver claim on either of these two.
Jacob Hollister, TE NE
In two seasons, Hollister has a total of 94 receiving yards. He is currently atop the depth chart at tight end for the Patriots, but to find him there still at the beginning of the season would be a huge surprise. The Patriots may not be able to land either Noah Fant or TJ Hockenson, but if you follow Ryan McDowell’s timeline on Twitter, you won’t be surprised to see Irv Smith Jr. be the newest Patriot tight end.
Jared Cook, TE NO
Look, I had to put this here. There are reports the Patriots went hard after Cook and he decided to sign with the Saints instead, reportedly believing Gronkowski would be back. According to Ian Rapoport, Cook has yet to officially sign with the Saints. It’s possible we see Cook pull a play from Josh Mcdaniel’s book and back out of his deal to sign with the Patriots instead. If he does, his stock would rise.
We just want to take a minute to wish Rob Gronkowski good luck in whatever he decides to do next. In his nine years in the league, he certainly had a lot of fun, and we here at Dynasty League Football wish him the best.
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