The New England Patriots are out to win football games, not make your fantasy football life an easy one. The status of Rob Gronkowski has been up in the air since the 2013 season kicked off, and while the Patriots have cleared their all-world tight end to play, his personal medical specialist (and fantasy dream killer) Dr. James Andrews has yet to officially clear him to play this afternoon against the New Orleans Saints.
So what are his patient fantasy owners supposed to do? The Pats put him on the 53-man roster to open the season (theoretically suggesting that he’d suit up before Week 7), but he seems likely to be a game-time decision today for a 4:20 p.m. kickoff nonetheless.
If you drafted Gronk, odds are that if he starts for New England, he is starting for your fantasy squad. That being said, we probably won’t know his status until the last possible minute, which makes replacing him with a TE who plays in the early set of games virtually impossible. That is why if I own Gronkowski, I’m handcuffing him this week with the Arizona Cardinals‘ athletic pass catcher Rob Housler.
The Cardinals square off against a strong defense in the San Francisco 49ers, but they are very average when it comes to defending opposing tight ends from a fantasy perspective. They allowed Jermichael Finley to find pay dirt in Week 1 and have surrendered 11 catches for 111 yards and one touchdown to far less athletically gifted tight ends in Lance Kendricks, Jared Cook and Owen Daniels over the past two weeks.
The 49ers were able to shut down Coby Fleener and Zach Miller, but that was as much a result of a run-oriented offensive attack as anything.
In addition to the 49ers potentially being a bit vulnerable to tight end production, the Cardinals are giving Housler every opportunity to gain an increased role in their pass-first offense. Sure, he has made only two catches all season long, but his snap count has been on the up and up since the season began (he didn’t play a single snap in the first two games and played a season-high 87 percent of his team’s offense snaps last weekend).
While Andre Ellington is an emerging star, the Cardinals have remained focused on Rashard Mendenhall in the run game, and it is hard to imagine that he and his 3.2 yards per carry (2.2 over the last two weeks) having much success against the 49ers’ strong front line.
The Cardinals are going to throw the ball if for no other reason than they figure to be trailing and with Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) limited, Housler should see more than his fair share of targets. He is available in 92 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and 99.5 percent of ESPN leagues, so he is likely on your waiver wire.
Should Gronkowski be ruled inactive this week after the 1:00 p.m. players lock in, Housler is a good option that you can plug and play.
Looking for further fantasy advice or have a topic that you’d like me to spin into an article? Reach out to me @unSOPable23.