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Rob Gronkowski Worth The Risk For Dynasty Owners

Gronkowski is a big talent with a bad history. So what do you do?
Gronkowski is a big talent with a bad history. So what do you do?

What if I told you that for the low cost of a 3rd round pick in a Dynasty start-up, you could draft an incredibly talented, barely 25-year-old man-beast that gets fed the ball by arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play?

At his young age, this player already owns the single-season record for yards and touchdowns at his position. He has 32 scores in his last 34 games – 42 in his last 50. And because there are not many consistently elite producers at his position, this player provides an enormous advantage that has the potential to almost single-handedly win you fantasy football matches. The catch? The player is Rob Gronkowski and when he’s not busy partying with Johnny Football, he loves to get injured.

Well, he probably doesn’t like getting injured, but it sure does seem to happen a lot, and he’s all smiles afterward anyway. Rob Gronkowski’s fantasy dominance is evident to even the most casual fantasy football players. When healthy, he actually outscores fellow beast Jimmy Graham, who is a bona fide 1st round pick in almost any format. The problem is Gronk has not been healthy of late and many fantasy owners are shunning him for it without applying much thought.

It may seem like ages ago now, but there was a time where everyone had written off Matthew Stafford as an injury-prone waste of talent after he had missed 19 games in his first 2 seasons. Heading into 2011 drafts I knew that this irrational fear of injury had created a great value point and I “reached” for Stafford in my main league (2QB). That move led me to a championship as he lit up the sky with Megatron. Stafford was not the quarterback incarnate of Darren McFadden – if you watched the plays when they happened, he just had a string of unfortunate fluke injuries. Same goes for Gronk.

2011: The Year of The Ankle

Rob Gronkowski did not miss a game his rookie season of 2010. Returning for his breakout record-setting sophomore season in 2011, he played all 16 games without issue. Where was the durability issue at this point? Later in the postseason of that year, known Patriot-hunter Bernard Pollard, then with the Ravens, fell awkwardly on Gronk’s ankle during a tackle and sprained it badly. This is what it looked like:

Is that play Gronk’s fault, or Pollard’s? You tell me. The ankle noticeably hampered Gronkowski in the Super Bowl that year, rendering him an ineffective decoy. He reportedly later had minor surgery to repair it, but the injury never cost him a game.

2012: The Year of The Forearm and… Back?

On his way to another ridiculous season in 2012, Gronk was in on an extra point to block in week 11 and somehow emerged with a broken forearm. There’s no clear video or photo of exactly what happened, but the guy has a skeleton like anyone else. And considering he’s a big 6’6″ dude, you would have to assume he has some thick bones. Something highly abnormal happened that probably would have happened to anyone else in his position at that point in time — bones break when enough pressure is applied, that’s all there is to it.

Until then, Gronk had played in 42 straight NFL games, not even including preseason or playoffs. He returned later for the regular season finale and then tragedy struck again in the postseason. Gronk fell hard on the same arm at the end of an attempted long bomb.

Here’s a video of the play.

The Patriots never fully addressed why the arm broke again, but some in the media speculated that he came back before his forearm had completely healed, which would make sense. What are the odds of a player coincidentally breaking the same bone in one season if there was no more healing required? I don’t want to get into the whole infection debacle after that — it’s well documented — but the forearm can be summed up as a guy having a freak injury that led to a number of different complications and surgeries.

Now, while simultaneously dealing with the arm recovery, a legitimate long-term injury concern for Rob Gronkowski did appear. It was revealed that his back was bothering him and that he would undergo surgery to fix it. This is notable for two reasons: it is the only injury he has had related to the wear and tear of playing football and not something inflicted by an opponent, but also because it is a very similar (or the same) type of injury as the one that ended Gronkowski’s college career and caused him to fall to the 2nd round in the draft. Evidently, Gronkowski has a bad back, although you’d have to get a doctor’s opinion on what this means for the player’s future, because when he has played he has played productively despite any pains.

2013: The Year of The ACL and MCL

That leads us to the latest injury. Gronk missed 6 games of the next season recovering from both the forearm and the back. When he returned, he became Tom Brady’s go-to guy once again and started putting up the big numbers we’ve come to expect of him. Seven games later he was taken out of action. Like the ankle injury years prior, this latest injury was entirely on the defender’s shoulders. Literally.

Before Rob Gronkowski has time to get his head around and brace for impact from the defender, the Cleveland safety spears his shoulder into Rob’s planted leg, tearing his ACL and MCL before sending him flying. Again I ask, how does this happen because Gronk is injury prone? There are nagging injuries that swallow a player for their career, and then there are things like this that come out of the blue, with little anyone can do to prepare for it.

Gronk has had a serious run of bad luck and has gone against some reckless defenders. At some point it’s going to turn around, and when it does, I want the guy on my roster. Maybe not for this upcoming season as non-Adrian Peterson players tend to require a full year of play before returning to peak form, but in Dynasty leagues I am buying all day. All signs point to Gronk’s ACL recovery going well so far, and while the back injuries are somewhat alarming, none of the other injuries are scaring me away. I wouldn’t fault you for taking Graham, but someone with more potential may be sitting there at least a round or two later, and that’s value to be had if you’re willing to sit and wait.

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