I don’t think many people smelled what the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were cookin’ in the past few hours. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski not only unretired after a year hiatus but is traded to the Bucs and reunited with Tom Brady.
What a time to be alive.
Per Schefter, Tampa is the only place Gronk wanted to play. The ESPN insider credited the NFL star turned WWE wrestler’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, as saying the tight end will honor his one-year, $10 million deal at this time.
So, where does that leave everything for fantasy football purposes?
- Gronkowski visibly lost considerable muscle mass in his year off, but reports say he’s training hard to get into football shape. Given all of his injuries, it may behoove him to remain on the leaner side. Gronk is one of the best blocking tight ends of the past few decades, if not ever, and the loss of mass could come into play in how the team opts to utilize him. He may be flexed out wide more often than ever.
- Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard never fit the system and was in the doghouse most of 2019. Count on Tampa trading the young talent between now and the end of the draft. Could Howard remain on the team? It’s not outlandish, but it would be purely in an insurance role should Gronk fall to injury.
- Presuming Howard is indeed traded (or is even released), the Buccaneers have veteran Cameron Brate on the roster, as well. He’s versatile and is a better blocker than Howard. Look for plenty of Brate on the field, although him seeing targets of consequence is a different tale.
- In 2020, Tom Brady will have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Ronald Jones and Gronk catching passes from him. The offensive line is solid, outside of right tackle, which should be a high priority in the draft. Running back also may be addressed to help complement Jones and build depth.
Fantasy football takeaway
One has to give Gronkowski the benefit of the doubt, even if he doesn’t get a formal offseason of preparation with his new team. He and Brady can play catch in the dark and still school most defenders. There is a major worry of injury with Gronk, and it’s fair to pencil in him missing at least a couple of contests. On the other side of that coin, losing some bulk is easier on his frame, and the year away should have helped him health in general.
This makes him a No. 1 fantasy tight end by default, and the fun-loving star is poised shine in his new city. There’s an intriguing blend of upside and proven returns that isn’t often found in a soon-to-be 31-year-old tight end.
Gronk’s return secures Brady as no worse than a low-tier starting quarterback, regardless of the risks associated with either player. As for Godwin and Evans, but are WR1 talents but may be occasionally game planned out of fantasy success due to all of the talent in this offense. Furthermore, it is unclear as to which receiver will have Brady’s eye the most. We’ll take a deeper dive after the draft and examine the ripple effect throughout the entire offense.