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Maybe I’m missing something. I just don’t understand the concept of drafting Rob Gronkowski in the first round, simply to gain a single positional advantage at TE. Your first round pick should be the player who’s going to score the most points (excluding QBs).

Gronkowski finished with the 15th most Fantasy points among non QBs in standard and PPR leagues last season. Gronkowski had almost identical seasons the last two years. Last year, he had 1,176 yards and 11 TDs. In 2014, he had 1,124 yards and 12 TDs. So, I think you can expect similar results going forward.

This would make Gronk an acceptable choice at No. 15 overall, but not at his current ADP of No. 9. You can draft Allen Robinson (ADP 15) with that same late round selection. Robinson outscored Gronkowski by 41 points last year in standard leagues (49 points in PPR). Even if Robinson’s total of 14 TDs from last year falls to 10 TDs this season, he’ll still outscore Gronk by about 20 points.

The argument people like to make is that having Gronk gives you a huge TE advantage over every other team. That just isn’t true. Gronkowski outscored Jordan Reed by 26 points last season (only 11 points in PPR), and Reed missed two games with a concussion. Even if Reed regresses (which as long as he stays healthy I don’t think he will), TEs like Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, or even Jimmy Graham all have the potential to finish pretty close to Gronk in points.

Jordan Reed is being drafted in the fourth¬†round. For a comparison, I’ll use a WR going in the fourth round, whose stats are expected to be very similar to last seasons’ stats in Jeremy Maclin (who was also a fourth round pick last year). I could use T.Y Hilton or Randall Cobb (whose stats were worse than Maclin), but their numbers should increase this year. Allen Robinson outscored Maclin by 68 points in standard scoring (62 points in PPR) last season. A.J. Green outscored Maclin by 32 points, and Green’s numbers are expected to go up.

Rob Gronkowski is the No. 1 TE, but you should not draft him this season.

Do Not Draft This Tight End

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (ADP 9)

That intro was just explaining why it doesn’t make sense to draft Gronkowski in the first round. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him until the third round, but he would obviously never fall that far.

If I could bank on Gronk playing 16 games, going for 1,100-plus yards and 12 TDs, I would be fine taking him as the No. 15 player (were he finished last season). However, Gronkowski has a few red flags this season.

Jimmy Garoppolo Starting First Four Games

How can you not expect Gronkowski’s numbers to take a hit the first 1/4 of the season with Jimmy Garoppolo filling in for Tom Brady? Brady is the best QB a tight end could have, and Garoppolo has never started an NFL game before.

Garoppolo has looked decent in the preseason, but I expect the Patriots to play more conservatively on offense without Brady. Gronkowski should still find the endzone a couple times, but you can expect a decline in yards and receptions in the “Garoppolo games.”

The Additions of Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan

The Patriots added tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Chris Hogan during free agency. While these guys aren’t big names, they are solid players who will steal some targets from Gronk and Julian Edleman. Hogan and Bennett have also both had excellent preseasons.

They were brought in because Edleman and Gronkowski were pretty much the only reliable targets the Patriots had last season. Danny Amendola is decent when he’s on the field, which isn’t very often. Hogan and Bennett will allow the offense to be more versatile. Bennett will allow them to use more 2 TE formations, and Hogan is capable of lining up inside or outside the numbers.

Injury History

Gronkowski has played 15 games the last two seasons, but he missed 14 combined games in 2012 and 2013. He’s had injury issues going all the way back to college, which is why the Patriots were able to draft him in the second round in 2010.

Gronkowski has also sat out most of this preseaon, and he’s been limited in camp with what the Patriots will only refer to as a bruise. At 6’7″, Gronkowski takes a lot of big hits to his lower body, especially when going down the middle of the field. Injury will always be a risk with him.

Roster Construction

My last issue with Gronkowski is the ripple effect of drafting a TE in the first round has on the rest of your roster. You will always be one RB/WR behind everyone else who took a RB/WR in the first round.

Do a couple of mock drafts with a late pick. In one mock, take Gronk with your first pick. In another mock take Allen Robinson or A.J. Green with your first pick. See which team you like better.

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Tony

Tony "Mudd" Wogan

Tony "Mudd" Wogan is a multi genre freelance writer from Chicago. His writings include screenplays, short stories, lyrical poetry, ghost writing, and sports newspaper articles. He also has a life long passion for the game of football. He's a self proclaimed expert in talent/roster evaluation, coaching strategies, analytics, and NFL history.
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