Two words can sum up this game; Gronk. Back.
Fantasy owners have waited six long weeks to plug him into their lineup, but tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to the Patriots lineup on Sunday, and was busy right from the start. However, was he the most impressive fantasy player in this contest?
Jets: I swear, each week rookie quarterback Geno Smith just gets better and better. A huge game from Geno today, throwing for 233 yards and a score, while running six times for 32 yards and another touchdown. He outplayed Tom Brady, and continues to serve as a viable bye week replacement option for fantasy owners. Oh, and look. What do you know? Another puzzling, frustrating running back situation. After Mike Goodson went down with an injury, I assumed that Bilal Powell, who had already been dominating the snap count (38.6 snaps per game), would see a ton of work in this one. However, it was the resurrection of Chris Ivory in New York. The punishing back saw a ridiculous 34 carries, totaling 104 yards. Powell, meanwhile, carried the ball just three times for six yards. Whether it was an injury or not is unclear, but it is worth nothing that Powell has been dealing with a minor shoulder injury this week. However, I highly doubt that head coach Rex Ryan just flat out sat Powell. Rex has always spoke highly of his running back, stating that he is the most underrated player in football not too long ago. Owners should monitor a possible setback or re-injury. As for Ivory, he looked good, showing that elite power we have seen out of him during his time in New Orleans.
Jeremy Kerley hauled in Smith’s only touchdown pass of the day, catching eight balls for 97 yards in the process. He was targeted a team-high 10 times in this game, and while many (including myself) thought Stephen Hill would be Geno’s go-to guy in the passing game with Santonio Holmes out, it wasn’t meant to be. Hill caught just one pass for 17 yards.
Patriots: Remember that feeling when you get that brand new toy on Christmas, and suddenly, all of your attention is devoted to it? Kind of like the movie Toy Story, when Andy receives a brand new Buzz Lightyear for his birthday. Andy carries Buzz everywhere, and is always looking his way. That, my friends, is the perfect analogy to describe the return of Rob Gronkowski. After missing the first five weeks, Gronk made his 2013 debut on Sunday. He wasted not time producing, hauling in eight passes for 114 yards. More importantly, however, was that Tom Brady targeted him a whopping 17 times today, which is one of the most a receiver has been targeted in one game all year. Gronk will be a top-three tight end the rest of the way, and considering no receiving threat will see red zone looks like Gronk, the touchdowns will most definitely come. Brady, on the other hand, disappointed once again, throwing for just 228 yards, one interception and failing to toss a touchdown again. If it hadn’t been for that last-second touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins last week, it would have been Brady’s third-straight week without a touchdown. It’ll get better as his weapons are getting healthier, but a top-five fantasy signal caller, he is not.
I was interested to see the target distribution for the New England wideouts with the return of Gronk. Thompkins saw five targets, catching just two balls for 16 yards. Julian Edelman caught five of seven targets for 44 yards and Aaron Dobson was targeted seven times. It’ll be hard to trust these guys going forward, especially with Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola set to return soon.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.