The New England Patriots managed to win the Super Bowl last season even though Rob Gronkowski missed the playoffs with injuries, but that won't console fantasy football players who will be without their star tight end after he suffered an injury.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Gronkowski will not play in Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a thigh issue. That could clear the way for Dwayne Allen to become the primary starter and a potential fantasy contributor.
The Patriots traded for Allen in the offseason, and the sixth-year veteran apparently made strides with the team before the 2017 campaign even started.
"It's not like he's a rookie wondering how the NFL works, how everything goes," Gronkowski in the preseason, per Sam Quinn of 247Sports. "He's coming in, he's learning the plays just like that, and he's doing a great job."
Allen tallied a solid 406 receiving yards and six touchdown catches last year for the Indianapolis Colts and has as many as 521 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches in a season. Staying on the field has been an issue (he played just one game in 2013), but a healthy Allen can pose as a dangerous weapon in New England's loaded offense.
His role should also work to his advantage in fantasy circles moving forward.
He will be surrounded by Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, James White and Dion Lewis, meaning opposing defenses cannot afford to double-team him in passing situations. So many talented playmakers could cut into his targets, but fantasy players likely aren't relying on a No. 2 tight end to see 10 passes a game anyway.
The single coverage should create clear seams up the middle of the field, and there are few quarterbacks better equipped to hit them than Tom Brady.
So many weapons on offense for the defending champions also means they will be in scoring position plenty even without Gronkowski, creating a number of red-zone opportunities for the tight end.
Allen isn't going to be the top-notch fantasy player Gronkowski is on a yearly basis, but fantasy players can take solace knowing he is a reliable target who should put up passable numbers in this offense until the starter returns.
That should be enough to help various teams tread water if they are looking for more production from the tight end position.