Here’s what we know about Rob Gronkowski’s Week 1 status: very little.

Here’s what we’ll know about Rob Gronkowski’s Week 1 status a week from now: very little.

Here’s what w…yeah, you’re seeing the pattern here. We’ll know nothing or slightly above nothing until training camp begins, and even then we’ll continue to know very little. Giving you valuable life knowledge is not the Belichikian way.

Yet there were still at least mild ripples of glee when a report surfaced yesterday through Ed Werder, whose ESPN lips said the Patriots tight end is making “significant strides” during his recovery from back surgery (in addition to multiple forearm surgeries). In a follow-up tweet Werder noted that Gronkowski has been working with team trainers to improve his core strength.

That’s encouraging, though still mostly empty. What will transpire in a few weeks when training camp begins is Gronk sitting out and doing only light work, and it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll get a Gronk sighting at any point during preseason games. For those who embrace fantasy risk as a healthy and — more importantly — required part of their lives, all of this may actually be a very good thing.

The average fantasy mind is terrified and fractured, which means that any player with even moderate injury risk or an injury history could unjustly fall during drafts. Example: there’s a very good chance that if you’re drafting early, Trent Richardson will take a tumble, and he’ll be available to you at pretty swell value. That fall will be the result of Richardson being labeled as injury prone, even though I don’t think any of us can’t definitively be sure that’s a thing which exists, and even though he’s played only one season.

So if someone like Richardson can fall after such a limited sample size and much less serious injuries (oh, and remember that Richardson still played 11 games with broken ribs), then you can be sure Gronkowski could easily drive a fiery car off a jagged cliff. Again, embrace that.

You’re fully aware that injuries are part of the Gronkowski package, a fact of life which has now been extended further after he’s played the Operation board game guy for an offseason. You’re also in the know with something else which isn’t breaking news: despite all his various breaks and snaps and bruising, it doesn’t matter when Gronkowski is healthy.

This is the part when I remind you that even after missing five games last season, Gronkowski still finished with 790 receiving yards, seventh at his position. Even more remarkably, he scored 11 touchdowns in just 11 games (with three multi-touchdown games), which placed him fourth in the league and first at his position. At that pace, Gronkowski averaged a touchdown once every five catches (55 receptions overall). He also finished second in fantasy points with 139.5, an average of 8.7 per game. He’s pretty good at football.

Did I say that he did all that even while missing five games? OK, good. Because that simple yet pretty mind shattering fact can’t be lost now that we’ve arrived at the intentionally buried lede. Gronkowski’s ADP is mighty delicious, even if he starts the season on the physically unable to perform list and misses six games.

In ESPN leagues, Gronkowski has now fallen into the 40′s, with his ADP there at 41.4. But just as we did with Colin Kaepernick yesterday, looking at Gronkowski’s squiggly line over at Fantasy Football Calculator is…interesting.


The downwards spike has since corrected itself, with Gronkowski’s ADP reaching its lowest point in late June at upwards of 50th overall. Still, even after a climb, a valuation at 44.7 is something that gives you a risky, yet inviting decision.

Consider this strategy. No, execute this strategy.

If you can get Gronkowski at that +40 ADP price, do it, even if you assume the worst-case scenario is true and you don’t see him until Week 7. At that point he will be a few days shy of four months removed from surgery, which is plenty of recovery time, and therefore also plenty of reason to be optimistic about the old Gronk returning, and giving you elite production at an increasingly thin position for over half the season.

In the interim, there’s an abundance of fine short-term replacement/insurance options usually available much later, in the 10th round and beyond. That includes Antonio Gates, Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen, and Jermichael Finley. Going even further into the murky depths of the sleeper category for those who enjoy high upside with their low risk pick (which is everyone everywhere), we have sleeper darlings Jordan Cameron and Rob Housler much further down in the fading rounds of most drafts.

The value late is plentiful at the tight end position, and elite performance is limited and scarce. Yet now there’s a chance to get quality value with an elite player.

Fantasy football isn’t cumulative. It’s a week-to-week game based on week-to-week results, and the presence of a Daniels or an Olsen (or any of the aforementioned high-value replacement options who will usually provide something above replacement numbers) will make you forget about the zeros Gronkowski could post for six weeks.

Then the much higher numbers he’ll post will be quite enjoyable over the next 10 weeks.