I’m a generally cheery person. I enjoy sunshine, rainbows, and Lucky Charms. I also like puppies, and cookies. Happiness is fun, and sadness is not.
That’s why I’m also often optimistic, even when such an emotion is senseless. But the more I read about Rob Gronkowski’s forearm injury that required surgery earlier this morning, the more I’m finding it difficult to believe that he’ll have any relevance in fantasy leagues again this year.
The timetable for his return has widely been pegged at four-to-six weeks, and if we stick with that cheery optimism bit, the low end of that has him back for Week 16, which is the championship week in most leagues. Even in that peachy scenario it’s unlikely we’ll see the true Gronk that week, especially if the Patriots have solid playoff footing by then.
But although there are subtle hints from sources out there in football blog land which nod to a shorter absence, Jene Bramel — a pediatrician and the injury expert over at Football Guys — says that while there’s a chance we could see a quick return, he doubts Gronk plays meaningful football again during the regular season. He cited several recent examples, noting that history suggests six weeks is far more realistic:
While there are examples of NFL players who went on injured reserve much earlier in the season (safety Roy Williams in Week 7, 2008 and Paul Posluszny in Week 3 in 2007), there are multiple precedents for a return within six weeks. Posluszny was back in five weeks from his second forearm fracture in 2009, Chris Hope (6 weeks in 2011) and Jason McCourty (5 weeks in 2010) both returned within the six week timetable after surgery for forearm fractures. There’s no way to know whether those injuries are comparable and I think history suggests six weeks is more likely than four. But there’s a good chance we may see Gronkowski play before the NFL playoffs, but I would expect he’ll be limited in both snap count and effectiveness.
As is the case with any major injury to a major player late in the season, it’ll soon be time for those in re-draft leagues to face the reality Bramel is describing. Gronkowski most likely won’t be a contributor for you throughout the rest of this season, and with every point and every win crucial for those jostling for a playoff berth, roster spots simply can’t be wasted due to stubbornness.
If that describes you and you’re not securely in a playoff position, hold on to Gronk for a few more days as projections surrounding his recovery become even more clear. But it’s looking very much like the end is inevitable, and you’ll have to move on and roster someone — anyone — who can contribute.
Martellus Bennett (available in 46 percent of ESPN leagues) is an immediate waiver claim candidate for the Gronk owner, as is Brandon Myers (86 percent available), the Raiders tight end who’s averaging 55.4 receiving yards per game, and has three touchdowns over his last three games.
UPDATE: Gronkowski told NFL.com’s Albert Breer that he wants to play in Week 14. Umm yeah, we’re aware that Gronk is only about 20 percent human, but that’s a stupid quick return, so we’ll believe it when we have visual evidence. Again, for now hold tight and keep him stashed on your bench, and if/when it becomes clear his absence will be a longer one, move on.