New England Patriots' tight end Aaron Hernandez was held out of Sunday's 59-24 win over the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts. He has now missed three straight games and a total of six on the 2012 season.
Had Hernandez been able to suit up Sunday, there is no doubt he would have been a huge part of quarterback Tom Brady's statistical display. Instead, fellow bookend Rob Gronkowski tallied seven receptions for 137 yards and two scores.
The Patriots offense runs through the tight end. When both Gronkowski and Hernandez are healthy, the tandem is very difficult to stop.
Ironically, as Hernandez gets healthier—and hopes to return on Thanksgiving against the New York Jets—it is being reported by USA Today that Gronkowski suffered a broken forearm and will be out of action for the next four to six weeks.
Assuming Hernandez is a go for Thursday night, his value to the Patriots and in fantasy leagues just skyrocketed.
Is Hernandez capable of Gronkowski-like numbers during his absense?
When healthy, the University of Florida product has put up very solid numbers. Hernandez has 141 receptions for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns in 30 games played.
The problem has always been his ability—or lack thereof—to stay on the field.
It is safe to assume that Gronkowski wouldn't be as productive to this point in his career had Hernandez not missed so many games over the last three seasons. It is now Hernandez's chance to show what he is capable of in the spotlight.
How that affects Brady and the Patriots offense remains to be seen. Fantasy owners, however, should ride Hernandez through the home stretch and into the playoffs.