Rob Gronkowski has been one of the most valuable players in fantasy football this season, but an injury will force owners to find new options.
Early word: Gronk has been informed that the initial timetable is 4-6 weeks with his broken forearm. Not good, could be worse.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 19, 2012
This will likely keep him out for the remainder of the fantasy football season and possibly even the playoffs. This means fantasy owners will need to find another option and fast.
Considering Gronkowski's teammate Aaron Hernandez has been dealing with an ankle injury himself, one possible option is to pick up a player who will fill the void on the Patriots.
New England has become pretty dependent on the tight end position over the last few years. Even before Hernandez and Gronkowski entered the spotlight, Tom Brady regularly found Benjamin Watson in the end zone for touchdowns.
Of course, the team also has plenty of talent at receiver with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, not to mention Julian Edelman who had a big game against the Colts. Still, the remaining tight ends on the roster might provide some fantasy value.
One such option is veteran Visanthe Shiancoe, who actually has not caught a pass this year. He spent most of the season on injured reserve before being re-added to the 53-man roster prior to the Week 10 game against the Buffalo Bills.
Shiancoe has been in the NFL since 2003, but he did not thrive until he went to the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. In 2009, the tight end had his best season with 566 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
However, those numbers started to decrease, and he has totaled only five touchdowns in the last two-and-a-half seasons combined.
Still, he is a very experienced receiving threat and is sure-handed enough to gain the trust of Brady on important plays.
He will be competing for targets with Daniel Fells. As a former member of the St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos, he knows what he is doing on the football field. As recently as 2010, he finished with 41 receptions for 391 yards.
Unfortunately, he is much better known as a blocker. He has six targets this season, but most times he is on the field it is in a running formation. His two catches for 53 yards are more of a fluke than anything else.
Reserve player Michael Hoomanawanui will also get a chance to play, but he has spent his time in recent games as a fullback.
Therefore, Shiancoe is the best of all of the options. That does not necessarily make him worthy of a start in fantasy.
First of all, the injury to Hernandez might not keep him out for too much longer.
As Greg A. Bedard of Boston.com reported prior to the game, "The Patriots are optimistic that both Hernandez (ankle) and [guard Dan] Connolly (back) can return on Thursday night in the Thanksgiving matchup with the Jets."
If Hernandez is able to play, it lessens the urgency for one of these players to become a primary factor.
Additionally, the Patriots are not desperate for receiving targets with a host of talented receivers and pass-catching running backs.
It might be worth picking up Shiancoe because of his upside, but he should not be started until he proves he can be a major part of the offense.
Gronkowski owners would be better off picking up Brandon Myers or Dallas Clark, two players who are available in most leagues and have been productive in the last few weeks.
This situation is not ideal, but a good fantasy player can make adjustments when things get tough. This is one of those times.
Follow me on Twitter for the latest fantasy football news and advice.