Sometimes, the celestial bodies align just so. Or maybe it’s true that I’ve been blessed from the heavens above and have an almighty power, which is unfortunate because, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Mere moments after I posted my latest value mining effort and wrote many kind words about Rob Housler, a troubling Rob Gronkowski item bounced across my computer screen.
You know Gronkowski as both a ladies man who consumes liquids creatively, and an entrepreneur. You also know him as a tight end, and the very best tight end in the land. Despite playing in only 11 games last year, Gronk still recorded 790 receiving yards while scoring 11 times. Remarkably, he also still led all tight ends in touchdowns, and he ranked seventh in yards.
Yeah, he’s that damn good (#analysis), which often gets Gronkowski off the board late in the first round in fantasy leagues, or at worst early in the second. But in the latest example that we can’t have nice things, he’s also becoming increasingly fragile.
The forearm injury he suffered this past season has lingered throughout the offseason due to an infection that’s delayed the required surgery to replace the plate in his arm. Having a piece of metal in your arm isn’t ideal. Having an infection surrounding that plate goes from less than ideal, to just the worst.
So here we are then, with Gronk still waiting for surgery — and the fourth surgery to cure what ails him (ugh) — and hoping the infection will clear. This is about the time when good news would be nice so we can avoid an August of panic as we seek for answers that don’t exist during fantasy draft season.
What’s that you said, Karen Guergian?
According to a source familiar with the case, Gronkowski is going to need a fourth operation to change the plate that’s securing the broken bone in the forearm.
While there has been some suggestion recently that this step might be avoided, the source indicated the fourth operation still has to happen. The plate has to be switched, no matter what, and the surrounding tissue tested. The real question is if Gronkowski, who has been taking part in the team’s offseason program, will need a fifth operation.If tests show the infection has been completely flushed out, the plate will be replaced, and the recovery process begins. If there are still signs of infection, that won’t happen.
That’s a scenario no one wants to contemplate. Ultimately, Gronkowski would need more surgery and his participation for the start of the season and perhaps beyond would be in jeopardy.
Oh sorry, I was still waiting on the part with good news.
A highly trained man or woman will dig into Gronkowski’s arm soon, and see what’s up. Under normal circumstances, this would be a routine procedure to change the plate holding his arm together (ughhhh), and all involved would leave the operating room, and return to being merry. The recovery time would then be roughly 11 weeks, meaning we can all rest our weary heads and not be worried about him being ready for the regular season, or be concerned about that early-round investment you’ll make.
But there’s still a very real possibility that a fifth procedure will be required (ughhhhhhhhhhhh) if the infection persists. That will delay the recovery, and as Guergian notes, it’ll put Gronkowski’s status for the start of the regular season in serious ruh roh territory.
Even if that doomsday brings its hellfire, I still wouldn’t drop Gronkowski too drastically in any fantasy rankings. Along with Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, teammate Aaron Hernandez, and Jason Witten, he’s one of the elite producers at the tight end position, and the drop after those five is a jagged and dangerous one.
Draft him as you normally would, but prepare for the oncoming pain by being aggressive and targeting a quality backup earlier than usual (say, that Housler kid would be nice). In a fantasy regular season that’s only 13 weeks long in most leagues, an absence of, say, two games can’t just be shrugged off. That’s already 15 percent Gronkowski’s fantasy season gone.