Fantasy Football: Smart to Sell High on New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIISeptember 24, 2012

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 24:  Tight end Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots loses his helmet after a touchdown catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in a pre-season game August 24, 2012  in Tampa, Florida.  The Bucs won 30 - 28. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots hasn’t opened the season with fantasy stat lines worthy of a second-round pick. He will have those games down the road, but if you’re a fantasy owner of Gronkowski staring down a 1-2 or 0-3 start, decisions have to be made.

What Gronkowski’s fantasy owners should consider is moving their prized tight end for a productive player at another position.

Owners of the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham may entertain the same option.

The argument for trading away the big-name tight end is that there is so much production and fantasy value coming from the tight end position. If Gronkowski isn’t delivering consistently elite performances, it’s hard to justify starting him weekly.

Most fantasy leagues only have one tight end spot on their rosters.

Gronkowski’s fantasy value is ultimately tied to that of his quarterback, Tom Brady. In two of three games this season, Brady has thrown just one touchdown.

Gronkowski caught the lone touchdown pass from Brady in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. But that’s not going to happen every week.

The addition of a legitimate rushing game in New England has led to a devaluation of the Patriots’ passing options. There aren’t enough touchdowns going around to produce three elite options like the Patriots had last season in Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski and Wes Welker.

Brandon Lloyd is also diverting Brady’s attention.

Gronkowski has attracted 18 targets from Brady in three games this year. He caught 14 of them for 156 yards (good for a career-low 11.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.

Another tight end (who shall remain nameless for a paragraph or so) has 31 targets from his quarterback. He’s got 18 receptions, 188 yards and two touchdowns of his own. This guy was barely even selected in fantasy drafts.

His name is Dennis Pitta. He plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

Gronkowski is still at worst a top-five fantasy option at his position for the rest of the season. But a lot of fantasy football roster management is the manipulation of value.

Sometimes, the value in question is statistical production. Sometimes, it is name value.

Trading Gronkowski for a guy like Pitta might even net you an additional fantasy asset. You may not have to sacrifice the stats to improve your fantasy team by moving him now.

And the numbers are what win you games.