Rob Gronkowski: Fantasy Football Wild Card

By kylesoppe
Stew Milne USATODAY Sports
Stew Milne USATODAY Sports

The New England Patriots (and all other doctors allegedly involved) have cleared Rob Gronkowski for action this weekend against the division rival New York Jets. He will be in the Pats’ starting lineup, and while I believe he could be on a “pitch count” of sorts, he needs to be starting for your fantasy football team.

Let’s first start with the opponent. The Jets have given up solid TE production in four consecutive weeks (Heath Miller caught six passes for 84 yards, Tony Gonzalez caught 10 passes, Delaine Walker scored a touchdown and Scott Chandler recorded a season-high in catches/yards in addition to finding paydirt) and have struggled to contain Gronk over the past two seasons (18 catches and four touchdowns in three games).

When the Pats and Jets first faced off this season, Tom Brady dinked and dunked his way down the field, targeting Julian Edelman 18 times (13 connections). I expect the Jets to try to take away the short passing game and attempt to jam Gronk at the line of scrimmage, a huge mistake if he is even close to 100 percent healthy. When it comes down to it, the Jets know all about Gronkowski, and while I expect him to produce top ten fantasy numbers at his position this week, I think there is another Patriots offensive weapon who benefits from him being activated.

We’ve seen Ocho Cinco … oh, I’m sorry … that’s Kenbrell Thompkins make big play after big play down the field this season, and I think adding the threat of the All Pro tight end allows Thompkins to explode for his fantasy owners this week. The Jets’ secondary is banged up and, as mentioned, it was Edelman that killed the Jets five weeks ago.

I expect the Jets to do all they can to take away Brady’s check-down option, thus leaving the undrafted Thompkins in man coverage on the perimeter. Gronkowski will probably do most of his work in the center of the field, another reason why the Jets will be vulnerable on the outsides, where Thompkins has flourished up to this point.

He clearly has the trust of his quarterback, which should result in him seeing a handful of deep targets, and he has shown enough athletic ability up to this point that the game plan should give you confidence that he can produce for your fantasy squad this weekend.

Thompkins has seen more targets from Brady than Demaryius Thomas has from Peyton Manning this season, and while I think the addition of Gronkowski will eventually take some of those looks away (and that he’ll assume his position as the second-most valuable tight end), I don’t think it starts this week.

Pencil Thompkins in as a WR2 in your fantasy league over receivers like Anquan Boldin or any Green Bay Packers pass catcher.

Looking for more fantasy advice? Tweet me @unSOPable23 with your questions and concerns.

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