I know. It’s still May, which lessens the blow of every major injury or surgery, and decreases its fantasy impact. But the amount of times today we’ve had to remind ourselves that it’s May is troubling.
First it was Arian Foster and his calf strain which requires crutches, and he’ll miss the rest of Houston’s OTAs. That sucks, but he’ll still be fine for training camp. Oh, and you should still be scared.
Now we’ve learned that Rob Gronkowski — one of the best tight ends in the land — will need back surgery.
Yes, thanks for that piece of uplifting information, Albert Breer. The NFL Network news guy reports that the procedure is tentatively scheduled for mid-June, and Gronk will likely miss “at least part” of training camp. And so it begins.
I don’t mean to bring grave darkness to your life, but right now there’s no avoiding the fear inside. The more I read about Gronkowski, the more I think this could be far worse than what the Patriots seem to be projecting through Breer.
Most importantly and depressingly, there’s this…
As @kguregian reported last week, if Gronk needed back surgery, the expectation is he wouldn’t be ready until late-September.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) May 29, 2013
Yeah, that’s a real thing, and it leads to the possibility that Gronkowski could miss about a quarter of the regular season. With the fantasy regular season usually 13 weeks long in most leagues, that’s simply crushing.
There’s a reason that report from Karen Guergian exists too. Mostly, it’s probably right.
Those who are holding a glass half filled with liquid can pleasantly stick with their visions of cherries and sugarplums, and firmly believe that Gronkowski won’t experience any setbacks whatsoever while attempting to recover from back surgery, which is the kind of surgery that can never be slapped with the soft (and frankly, dumb) minor label. Including his forearm procedures, this is a guy who’s now had six surgeries over the past 16 months, and now this will be his second back surgery in four years. Yeah, ugh.
Back surgery. Two of them. Seriously let that sink in for a second, and then through Bill Barnwell remind yourself that Gronkowski’s back injury which eventually required surgery when he was still with the Arizona Wildcats in 2009 was initially diagnosed as a minor, week-to-week ailment.
He could be fine, and he could recover quickly and participate in about half of training camp while then preparing to start in Week 1. But at this point, you’re hoping for that rosy scenario, while bracing for an absence that could easily be far more lengthy. If that late-September timeline — the darkest timeline — is becoming an accurate projection late in August, then the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports since that the Patriots could put him on the PUP list, needing to maximize every roster spot. That would guarantee we don’t get a Gronk sighting until Week 7, and it would also guarantee an ocean of tears.
I still think if you’re in a dynasty or keeper league and you’re the type who can befriend risk easily, then this is a great time to make a low-ball offer for Gronkowski, with his owner shaking every body part which is capable of that action. Given how much he’s targeted in the Patriots offense and just how good and big and fast he is, a healthy Gronkowski is still one of the best fantasy investments you can make. It remains remarkable that he finished with 129 fantasy points last year, only five points behind Jimmy Graham despite missing five games.
For the rest of you in re-draft leagues, you can also use Gronkowski’s point total in 2012 to estimate the absolute worst-case scenario. I know right now if you’re given the choice between drafting Gronkowski and sticking your head in a blender, most of you would take the blender. But allow a moment for rational thought to creep in amidst the fear, and again realize that in 2012 Gronkowski still finished second in scoring at his position even after missing over a quarter of the season (just as he could this year), and he did it while averaging 12.6 points per game.
That’s why much like what we saw with Adrian Peterson last year, this injury and the fear it’s generated could be beneficial, as it’ll create great value. If and when Gronkowski falls, he can be yours at a mild bargain. Then if he’s out until nearly October, stream, and stream with pride. There’s a significant gap between the elite tier of tight ends and the rest, but after that there’s little separation. As The Fake Football’s C.D. Carter has noted, 47 tight ends achieved top 12 status at least once during a week last year.
I’m beginning to feel better now. Peace will be restored, and Gronkowski will be beast-like, and possibly at a sweet discount. Just maybe not until late September.