After months and months of speculation, surgeries and intrigue, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has finally been cleared by doctors and is expected to suit up for New England against the New York Jets on Sunday.
As per usual with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, it is very unclear how much Gronkowski will play. I expect that his snaps will be limited, but there is no way that I leave him on my fantasy bench this week. If you have him, you are starting him.
The Patriots are currently the third-worst team in the NFL in red zone scoring, landing in the end zone in only 40.9 percent of their red zone possessions. New England was third in the league in red zone touchdown percentage in 2012, fourth in 2011 and sixth in 2010.
Since Gronkowski’s rookie season of 2010, he has 29 receiving touchdowns in the red zone, which is the most in all of football, even with Gronkowski missing 11 games in that span. I think it is safe to say that the red zone is where the Patriots need Gronkowski back the most. Even if he is limited, you can expect him to be the main target on red zone plays.
With the departure of Wes Welker, the release of Aaron Hernandez and the continued injuries of Danny Amendola, the Patriots simply need Gronkowski back. The young wide receiving corps is getting better as the season goes on, but Tom Brady simply needs his big tight end back.
I think Brady will be looking for Gronkowski all game long, as he is by far and away the most talented pass receiver that the Patriots have.
I understand why people will be hesitant to insert Gronkowski directly back in to their fantasy lineups, but you are leaving a ton of potential on the shelf if you do not. There simply is not a tight end in the league who has a better chance of scoring a touchdown week in and week out than Gronkowski.
He is an elite red zone target and the Patriots need him back in the worst way. I expect the usual big game out of Gronkowski on Sunday, and i will be starting him with confidence.