First, there was Tom. Then, there was Gronk. Now they are both Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bringing a duo that laid waste to fantasy teams for the better part of the last decade.
Gronkowski’s situation entering this season is certainly unique. After “retiring” last year, he was coaxed back into the NFL by Brady following his departure from New England this offseason, facilitating a trade that allowed him to follow Brady to Florida.
Somehow, one of the best tight ends ever took a year off and managed to tether himself to only quarterback he has really ever had in the NFL in one of the biggest offseason coups in recent memory. If the Gronkowski’s on-field performance can match the drama of his offseason, he should recapture his fantasy football dominance.
For the last decade, Rob Gronkowski has been fantasy royalty. Despite playing a full 16-game slate just once in nine seasons, he led all tight ends in fantasy scoring four times in his career. His 2011 season remains legendary in which he scored 240 fantasy points, sixth-most among all skill position players.
The theme for Gronkowski heading into the 2020 season is uncertainty. He has not played a snap in over a year and was in such a bad way following the 2018 season that he says he was “losing joy from life” (via Avery Yang):
Fast forward a year and some healing later, Gronkowski finds himself a Buccaneer, elevating an already stacked position in Tampa Bay and giving Brady possibly the best assembly of weapons he has ever had.
While there’s undeniable chemistry between Brady and Gronkowski, the presence of wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well as tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate threaten to cut into Gronkowski’s targets.
Though he is one of the best tight ends ever, there is likely to be some rust that Gronkowski will have to kick off early in the season. Combined with the other receiving options available, it will be difficult for Gronkowski to reach 100 targets, which he did in each of his four 1000-yard seasons.
His fantasy value also rests on his health through the season. On average, Gronkowski misses 3.2 games a season, and in 2018, his years of punishing play drastically impacted his effectiveness, scoring just 6.5 fantasy points per game.
Still, Gronkowski will bring TE1 value for one very simple reason: touchdowns. When he plays at least 10 games, Gronkowski averages 10.3 touchdowns per season. With Brady entering a new offensive system, he will likely find a security blanket in Gronkowski, particularly in the red zone.
Last season, only Ravens TE Mark Andrews recorded at least 10 touchdowns and only six tight ends scored more than five. Gronkowski’s penchant for coming down with the ball in the endzone automatically makes him eligible to be among the first tight ends taken from fantasy draft boards.