Assuming Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy throughout training camp and the preseason, Tom Brady will have his most dangerous weapon on the field when the New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. Bill Belichick told reporters on Wednesday that Gronk has been cleared to play.
Gronkowski, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL six months ago, was not placed on the physically unable to perform list before training camp began. That was the first indication that the big tight end is good to go.
The Patriots brought in Brandon LaFell this offseason and are hoping to get more production from Danny Amendola in 2014, but Gronkowski is the engine that powers New England’s offense. When Gronk is on the field, the Patriots are more effective in both the passing and run games. He has tremendous hands, is Brady’s favorite red zone target and is an underrated blocker.
Gronkowski hauled in four touchdowns last season despite appearing in only seven games. He has 15 touchdowns in 18 games over the past two seasons and 42 total touchdowns in 50 career games.
The question, of course, will be whether Gronk can stay healthy. He is only 25 and has already had multiple back and arm surgeries in addition to major knee surgery.
What does this mean for fantasy football? Drafting Gronkowski will always be a risk given his injury history, but he can single-handedly win fantasy weeks when he is on the field. The fact that he has been cleared to play so early in camp indicates that Gronk had no setbacks throughout the offseason, which is obviously good news. If the health issues don’t scare you away, there’s no reason Gronk shouldn’t be drafted nearly as high as Jimmy Graham.