As the preseason comes to a close, we believe we’re learning what the future holds for our 2012 Fantasy Football season. But are we taking the hints seriously, and adjusting our thinking, or are we keeping our minds made up, no matter what? Then again, if we do change our thinking, are we overreacting to preseason news and stats? I’m talking, of course, about the Patriots Tight End situation.
Patriots Tight End: Gronk or Gator?
Last season, TE Rob Gronkowski finished the best year of a tight end in the history of the game. Not just for his team – but in the history of the NFL.
Aaron Hernandez, meanwhile, was the second-best tight end on his own team, but still came in third among all Fantasy tight ends, with 80 catches for 910 yards and seven TDs. As a matter of fact, only 14 other tight ends over the past 10 years scored more Fantasy points in a season than the former Florida Gator.
Effects of the Offseason
Gronk has been all over the place – enough so that Patriots management reportedly told him to tone down his act. (That’s professional speak for “cut the bullcrap.”) From dancing after the Super Bowl, to partying with a porn star, he’s had quite the eventful 2012.
Brandon Lloyd, meanwhile joins the Patriots and becomes another threat, along with Wes Welker and Hernandez, to take away Gronk’s targets.
Hernandez, meanwhile, has had a quiet offseason, and his preseason has six catches for 59 yards. He had five grabs for 52 yards in Preseason Week 3 at Tampa Bay, and he led the team with seven targets. Gronk got just two targets in that game.
Hernandez has also been vying to get his position switched from tight end to wide receiver, just so if he got franchise-tagged, it would be at the WRs’ salary percentages rather than the TEs. The Patriots ended up signing him to a deal that keeps him in New England through 2018.
Finally, Patriots beat writer Greg Bedard believes that Hernandez could be the player QB Tom Brady leans this season. “Aaron Hernandez has ascended to Brady’s No. 1 option, with Wes Welker next, and then Rob Gronkowski depending on matchups,” Bedard said.
ADP for the NEP TE
So Gronk’s current ADP at MyFantasyLeague.com is 2.04, as the second tight end off the board after New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham. And Hernandez is coming in around 5.02, as the fourth tight end gone, just behind Chargers TE Antonio Gates.
When Lloyd joined the Patriots, I initially thought that he would cut into Hernandez’s targets the most, which made a lot of sense. The Patriots finally had an outside threat to pair with Gronk and Welker inside. Recently, during our GFY Keeper Draft in Fort Lauderdale, I talked with Jamey Eisenberg of CBSSports.com. He said he thought Welker would be the one to lose targets with Lloyd on board, and he loved Hernandez this season. (Interestingly, Gronk went exactly at 2.04 in the draft, and Welker went at 2.09, which is exactly where his ADP is at MFL.)
At first, I was a little skeptical because Eisenberg and Hernandez are both Gators, and you know how that goes with some writers sometimes. But it’s beginning to look like Eisenberg was right!
So if you’re able to get Hernandez in the fifth round, you’re most likely much better off than getting Gronkowski – or even Welker — in the second round.
Those that have been picking up Gronk that early have most likely been drafting the wrong Patriots tight end.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.