Oh, Rob Gronkowski. Why, God? Why, of all the average tight ends, did you have to choose this physical specimen to abuse? The 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound freak is set to undergo microdisectomy on his L5-S1. In human speak, he is set to undergo back surgery. And it’s not good, especially for those who are banking on him in dynasty and keeper leagues. The injury is going to linger. the effects are widespread. A doctor who deals with athlete’s backs on a regular basis told me that he his chances of returning to 100 percent are “zero”.
“It will haunt him the rest of his career”, the source said.
While the media is projecting Gronkowski to miss training camp but be back for the season. I’m doubting that. From talking to sources, at a minimum, Gronkowski is looking at a of four to six month recovery time. In other words: you re-draft owners, start looking elsewhere. I can tell you, personally, that I won’t be touching this guy until the double-digit rounds this season (Which, in other words, means that I won’t be touching him at all.)
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears
Alright, so I’m not digging very deep on this one, but in most keeper leagues he should be available. Bennett has sort of been a second thought in his first five years of his career. On a pass-happy Dallas team, he sat for four years, learning the NFL behind one of the NFL’s best, Jason Witten. In New York playing for Big Blue in 2012, he was no longer an after thought (55 receptions, 626 yards, 5 touchdowns), but with many other targets for Eli Manning to target, Bennett didn’t truly reach his full potential. Bennett is expected to be used as more of a vertical threat this year, stretching the field and working the seams, something that he can do with his extraordinary athleticism, but hasn’t been in the situation to be able to. He’s already been praised by his coaches for getting his nose in the Bears playbook, and this is a team that should throw a lot in 2013 behind an improved offensive line. Bennett was a huge signing for the Bears, and he’ll put up tight end one numbers.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
Cameron will be on all of my teams this season. He’s going to be one of the last picks in your re-draft leagues, and he’s going to be a steal. Rob Chudzinski loves to use his tight ends. He was the tight ends coach in San Diego in 2005, 2006, 2009 ad 2010. In 2005, Gates hauled in 89 catches, his career high. In 2009 under Chudzinski, Gates totaled 1,157 yards, another career high. Exhibit B: Greg Olsen under Chudzinski’ as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. In 2012, Olsen totaled 843 yards on 69 receptions, both career highs. Cameron has already been hyped in OTAs. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “The Browns really like tight end Jordan Cameron as their starting tight end and plan to throw to him a lot. Cameron was targeted on plenty of deep balls in OTAs.” Cameron is already building hype. Hopefully that hype stays on the down low so that he can remain a steal on draft day.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
I know that Eifert is going to be available in all of your leagues, because he’s a rookie. Like Cameron, Eifert is already making waves at OTAs. He’s already been talked up by quarterback Andy Dalton, and has been running in two tight end sets with incumbent starter Jermaine Gresham. It shouldn’t be long until Eifert overtakes Gresham, who doesn’t have any real special features to his game. Although both will probably be somewhat productive in 2013, as the Bengals plan to use both, and Gresham will likely be more involved near the goal line. However, Eifert should be more productive from a fantasy stand point because he can play the slot and stretch the field successfully, unlike Greshham.
Robert Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Housler has yet to score his first career tight end, so why is he here? Talent. Well, more than one reason, but we will start with talent. Housler has the ability to stretch the seam with his absurd speed for a tight end. He’s 6-foot-5-inches and plays like a receiver most of the time. Secondly, not only does Larry Fitzgerald benefit from the addition of a quarterback this offseason, Housler and the other Cardinals targets do too. Housler has a quarterback that he can build a rapport with amd pme that is substantially better than any that he has played with before in Carson Palmer. New head coach Bruce Arians is also notably a fan of Housler, and it’s likely that Arians will use Housler to attack the seam, something that few in the NFL can do better than Housler.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce is extremely athletic and will be targeted in Andy Reid’s offense. Early in his college career, Kelce moved around the offense, even taking snaps at wildcat quarterback. While he’s strong and will take more than one to take down, he can stretch the field and has the hands of a wide receiver (one not named Darriues Heyward-Bey). He also pancaked a guy or two in college; he can run block. More importantly, Reid already likes him. Tight ends in the Chiefs offense since Tony Gonzalez left have totaled 46, 61, 35 and 44 catches over the last four years. Under Reid, the Eagles have totaled 79, 51, 75 and 82 catches over the past four years, primarily from Brent Celek and Clay Harbor. Reid loves his tight ends, and he’s already compared Kelce to Shockey. Needless to say, he must like what he has seen, and I’m sure that he didn’t use his third-round pick on him to sit behind Anthony Fasano and Tony Moeaki. Kelce will start this year and has an enormous ceiling.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have some replacement level options for Gronkowski for your keeper league or some sleeper ideas for your re-draft leagues. There are lots of guys I like in the last round this year, and all of them are young and talented, which makes them even more exciting in a keeper or dynasty league. If you’d like to recommend my next blog topic, you can send me a tweet. I’m always looking for new topics! See you all soon.