Just as the New England Patriots‘ offense was finally hitting its stride, a brutal injury has changed everything in a flash. Rob Gronkowski was carted off the field today after taking a brutal helmet shot to the knee, and early indications show that he likely tore his ACL. It’s crushing news for a player who was just regaining his dominant form after finally returning from a separate injury, and a team that is going to have an incredibly hard time getting big wins without him.
Not only that, but the injury has a dramatic impact on the rest of the offense’s fantasy prospects as well.
Tom Brady was finally looking like the elite QB we know him to be, but Gronk’s injury will unfortunately likely cause him to take a step back. The tight end is by far his favorite target, and the two of them together form one of the most lethal connections in the league. Brady hasn’t demonstrated that same chemistry with any other player, so it’s quite possible that his numbers over the next few weeks will look a little more like the unimpressive ones he posted early in the season.
Gronk’s injury will also place a lot more pressure on Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Fellow wideouts Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson were already nursing injuries, so the two healthy receivers are going to have to shoulder the load for the Pats for the time being. The likely huge volume probably boosts their fantasy value a bit, but it’s hard to say if Brady will again be so badly affected by Gronk’s absence that he struggles to move the ball around.
The injury actually also bolsters Shane Vereen‘s fantasy value by a good amount because the running back will now be asked to be an integral part of the passing game. That’s where he thrives, evidenced by the 12 catches and 153 receiving yards he had today. He’ll be on the field a whole lot in the coming weeks, so his ceiling is incredibly high at the moment.
The injury is a brutal break for Gronk’s owners as we get close to wrapping up the opening round of the playoffs. He’s one of the biggest difference-makers in all of fantasy football, and his loss is going to send ripples through fantasyland. If you own any of the other Patriots players mentioned, don’t hesitate to play them next week, but pay close attention to the game. Its outcome will be crucial to the lineup decision-making process for those lucky enough to move on to the finals.