Fantasy owners all over the world rejoiced and were merry as Patriots camp opened this week. That’s right, friends, Rob Gronkowski avoided the PUP list and was cleared to start training camp with the team. Now, Gronk has certainly been coddled over the first couple practices, but the fact that he’s there at all is spectacular news for everyone who enjoys great tight end play, memorable quotes, and DDTing their friends in night clubs.
As expected, Gronk’s ADP, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, has risen from 3.08 to 3.03 over the past week. It will most likely continue to rise throughout the month of August, as long as the news out of training camp remains positive.
What we’re here to to discuss today, though, is how this news affects the wide receivers that will be lining up next to Gronk during the season. Gronk’s presence changes the way the Pats offense looks, where Tom Brady throws the ball, and how defenses play the team.
It can open up holes in certain parts of the field, and take the roles away from certain receivers. In order to try to quantify this, we’re going to use the RotoViz Game Splits App (if you don’t have a RotoViz subscription, I would definitely recommend getting one. They’re awesome.) We’ll break it down by receiver.
Current ADP: WR29
I know that looks intimidating, but it’s really quite straightforward. “In Split” are the games in which Gronk and Edelman both played. The number to the left of the slash is that category per game. The number to the right of the slash is that category projected over 16 games. The fantasy points are calculated based on half-point PPR, so adjust to your league format as you see fit.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Edelman takes a hit of 4 targets, 2 receptions, and 24 yards per game when Gronk is on the field. He actually scored slightly more touchdowns with Gronk on the field, but that’s probably insignificant as touchdowns are more random than yards.
So is Edelman being overvalued at WR29? No, he is most certainly not. Edelman’s numbers with Gronk, projected over 16 games, place him at Standard WR27 in 2013. His numbers without Gronk over 16 games place him at WR17. In reality, he finished at WR18 last year. At WR29, Edelman is a good value.
Current ADP: WR46
Amendola’s receptions don’t take a major hit with Gronk in the lineup, but his targets and yards do see a bit of a dip. The difference in touchdowns could be random, or it could be that Gronk’s presence in the redzone frees up more space for Amendola. The sample size is really too small to tell.
The in split stats put Amendola at Standard WR37 in 2013, while the out of split stats put him at WR51. Given Amendola’s significant injury risk, I’d say WR49 is about right for him. I probably wouldn’t take him any higher than that.
Current ADP: WR53
Before we get started with Dobson, there’re a couple of disclaimers. First of all, Dobson is currently on the active/PUP list with a foot injury. Dobson has repeatedly stated that the foot feels good and he’ll be back soon, but he’s not cleared for practice yet. Second of all, the sample size of the in split statistics is tiny and could be misleading.
That being said, holy shit look at his stats with Gronk on the field. He gains less than a target and only one reception per game, but his yards-per-game go up nearly 30 yards! Intuitively, this makes sense. Gronk doing his thing over the middle would likely lead to one-on-one matchups that Dobson could exploit on the outside, which, in turn, would lead to more deep balls. This would also lead to significantly more touchdowns.
Dobson’s numbers with Gronk would have made him standard WR12 in 2013. His numbers without would make him WR63. That’s a pretty wide range of outcomes. He’s also had issues with drops in the past, so that needs to be factored into the equation. It seems pretty clear, though, that Dobson is the Patriots receiver who stands to gain the most from Gronk’s return. At WR53, he’s got a ton of upside, and he’s virtually free. Take a shot on him. If he hits, that’s great. If he doesn’t, it’s no problem.
Current ADP: Undrafted
Similar to Dobson, the sample sizes are pretty small. However, this is another one with a very stark contrast. With Gronk out, Thompkins averaged 4 more targets, an extra catch or so, 23 more yards, and significantly more touchdowns. It appears that Thompkins, who is more of a possession receiver than Dobson, really does not have much of a role in the offense with Gronk occupying the middle of the field.
His in split numbers would put him at Standard WR97, and his out of split numbers would put him at WR17. That’s an even larger range than Dobson, and his floor is insanely low. Unless Gronk gets hurt again, Thompkins is undraftable in most formats.
Let’s Wrap This Up
So what did we learn today? Julian Edelman will probably be pretty good, Danny Amendola remains injury-prone and probably doesn’t have a huge amount of upside, Aaron Dobson could be an absolute steal if Gronk stays healthy, he stops dropping the ball, and he gets healthy, and Kenbrell Thompkins isn’t really worth a look unless Gronk is off the field.Button Text
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