Make Up or Break Up: Rob Gronkowski
Is it okay if I call you that still? Seeing you up in the owner’s suite during the AFC Championship game made me reminisce of how dominant of a player you have been over the last 7 years. Since 2010, you’ve had double-digit receiving touchdowns in 5 of the last 7 seasons including an NFL record 17 in 2011. This year, however, we barely saw you on the field where you scored a career-low 3 times. As I watched you take a vicious hit by Earl Thomas from the upper deck of Gillette Stadium in Week 10, I had a bad feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach. The same feeling I had when you broke your arm twice in 2012. The same feeling when you tore your ACL in 2013. Sustaining yet another injury this season, is it finally time for me to walk away?
Rewinding back to the beginning of this season, you were a gambler’s dream. High risk with an even higher reward. Many felt uncertain taking you in the first or second round because of multiple injuries you suffered in the off-season. First, it was a pectoral muscle, which caused some concern but you were available during the first day of training camp so we looked past it. Two weeks later, you injured your hamstring, causing you to miss the first two games of the season. As Tom Brady returned from suspension and you were getting healthy, those who drafted and stashed you were chomping at the bit to see you two back together on the field. From Weeks 5 through 8, you were your old prominent self, averaging a ridiculously high 118.3 yards a game. You finished as the TE1 in 3 out of the 4 weeks, outscoring number 2 Delanie Walker by 28.4 points during that span. Life was great again and each Gronk Spike made my heart flutter that much more. In the end, it was just too good to be true.
Against the New York Jets in Week 12, you herniated a disk in your back for the third time in your career. This last successful back surgery marked your ninth surgery since 2009 and third on your back alone. Since 2011, you’ve missed 24-regular season games. Some question if you’ll ever play again. Seeing such an unstoppable force be so fragile is almost unfathomable to me. If we thought you were a question mark heading into last season, you will be an even bigger one come August. As fantastic as you’ve been all this time, I hate to admit that there might be more fish in the sea for me.
Your position is probably one of the toughest to figure out in fantasy. Unknowns such as Jack Doyle and Cameron Brate find themselves outscoring the likes of yourself and other highly drafted tight ends. Out of the top 12 scoring tight ends in 2016, there were only 5 that were ranked inside the top 10 preseason based on ADP. How can I say no to that? I can draft a guy in the 8th-12th round that gives me slightly less production than you instead of taking a risk and drafting you in the 2nd or 3rd round. Fellow Baller’s writer Nate Hamilton discussed this type of thinking last August when he advised everyone to avoid you. While I am a guy who loves to give people a second chance, I think it’s time to admit that I’ve given you enough chances.
Rob, after years of drafting you, trading for you, and buying one of your jerseys, unfortunately, it is now time for me to break up with you. And no, I won’t give back any of your hoodies.
Wishing you a speedy recovery,