Fantasy Football: Holding Out for the Old Rob Gronkowski?

Getty Images Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tight End Rob Gronkowski

Many who drafted Rob Gronkowski expected more from him. No, he was not a top tight end off the board in fantasy but even as a late-round flyer, two catches for 11 yards through his first two games with the Buccaneers is a rough total.

Gronkowski simply isn’t a top guy anymore. Tampa Bay isn’t using him in the passing game and while he may have a connection with Tom Brady, the QB is just not looking for him as much as he did when he was in New England.

And despite the lack of statistical performance, the Buccaneers seem thrilled with Gronk.

“We haven’t had that many red-zone opportunities and I don’t see him running 40 yards past people any more,” Arians said. “We brought him in to play tight end. If that means no catches, that means no catches.”

He’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. The Buccaneers want to be more run dependent than they have been in the past, especially if you’re going to preserve Brady all season. All this means that Gronkowski likely isn’t going to be a fantasy force as he was in the past. It’s probably safe to drop Gronk in most season-long leagues.

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What About Tampa Bay’s Other Tight Ends?

OJ Howard and Cameron Brate have each play less than Gronk.

Player Week 2 Snaps Total Snaps
Rob Gronkowski 42 96
O.J. Howard 34 71
Cameron Brate 4 11

Brate has barely seen the field at all. Howard looked good in the opener as the Buccaneers were trying to come back in the Saints game, though he is simply not reliable on a week-to-week basis. Neither tight end should be rostered in fantasy. Sure, there’s a chance that one of Tampa Bay’s tight ends breaks out and has a multi-touchdown game, I’m just not betting on which one does it and which game it happens in.

Trusting Brady, Bucs’ Offense on Sunday?

As for the wide receivers, it’s a different story. Brady has been quite dependent on them through his first two games in Tampa Bay.

In week two against the Panthers, Brady targeted Mike Evans on 34.5% of his routes. In week one, Godwin led the team with seven targets, catching six of them for 79 yards. This week versus Denver will be the first game that both Pro Bowl wideouts take the field at full strength.

As I wrote in the Buccaneers-Broncos betting breakdown, Denver’s defense limits opponents’ passing games, cutting yards and touchdowns per attempt by 4% and 17%, respectively. Both figures rank in the top-10 among NFL teams, as Scott Spratt writes on Football Outsiders. While Evans and Godwin should get their stats on Sunday, Brady should not be expected to have a major game and neither should his tight ends.

You can follow Chris Crouse on Twitter at @NBACrouse and stay up to date with the latest in Tampa Bay via the Heavy on Buccaneers Facebook Page.

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