Rob Gronkowski: Week 17 Expectations for Patriots Superstar Tight End

Alex KayCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball after catching a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the game on November 18, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New England Patriots possess the top scoring offense in the NFL and it’s about to get even more potent with the Week 17 return of Rob Gronkowski.

According to’s Albert Breer, the Gronk will make his way back onto the field after missing the past five games with a broken forearm. Before going down against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, the star tight end recorded 53 catches for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns.

At 6’6”, 265 pounds with tremendous athleticism, Gronkowski is by far QB Tom Brady’s favorite red zone target—which is clear considering no other receiver on the roster has more than five scores.

The Gronk has played through injury before, notably with a high ankle sprain in Super Bowl XLVI and hip pain through much of the 2012 season. Fortunately, this forearm issue shouldn’t hinder his production in a major way, if he’s truly recovered.

This return couldn’t come at a more opportune time, as the Patriots are gearing up for a critical contest against their AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins.

If New England were able to garner a victory, plus get some help by having the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans lose, the franchise would lock up the No. 1 seed in the conference—and get a bye if either lost.

Regardless if the Pats get the 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed, the team definitely needs Gronk back in the lineup to make another Super Bowl run during the 2012-13 playoffs.   

Since coach Bill Belichick will want to win this game in order to give his squad a chance for a bye, we fully expect him to play his starters for the majority of the one-sided contest.

Gronkowski should be in line for a ton of targets as both Brady and Belichick will want to get a feel for where he is at health-wise, while also helping get him back into a rhythm prior to the postseason.

We believe the 23-year-old star is primed for a big day, and fantasy owners who have been patient with the TE and play in leagues that go into Week 17 are in for a treat.

Our projected stat line for Gronkowski is six catches (on eight targets) for 82 yards and one touchdown against the ‘Phins this Sunday.

Don’t sleep on Gronk coming back in a big way.