Gronkowski is among the most productive tight ends in NFL history. Despite missing two games last season, he led all tight ends in receiving yards with 1,084. He also topped all tight ends in first-down rate -- 82.6 percent of his catches moved the chains. He finished the 2017 regular season with 69 catches and eight touchdowns, including a 52-yard score in Week Two at New Orleans, and a 33-yard TD in Week Six at the Jets. Gronk produced a combined 154 receptions and 23 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015, and he led tight ends in receiving yards in both seasons. In 2011, he caught 90 balls for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. Heading into his ninth professional season, he is 29 years old -- younger than Delanie Walker, Jared Cook, Charles Clay and Jimmy Graham. He’s only a few months older than Travis Kelce and Kyle Rudolph.
There is just one real negative with Gronk, but it’s a doozy. He missed significant time to injury in 2012, 2013 and 2016. He hasn’t played in all 16 regular season contests since 2011, his second year in the NFL. A partial list of the injuries he has sustained since he joined the NFL in 2010: sprained ankle, two broken forearms, fractured vertebra, torn ACL and MCL, hamstring strain and slipped disc, concussion. To compound the issue, he sat out Week 14 last season for a ridiculous cheap shot he put on the Bills Tre’Davious White. Gronk has never led tight ends in receptions for a season. There were reports in the offseason that Gronkowski might retire before the 2018 season. That seems unlikely, however, it does seem the big tight end has at least some frustration with New England’s coaching staff.
If Gronkowski had a better track record on injuries, he’d not only be the first tight end taken in fantasy leagues, he’d be one of the very first players selected overall. But the injuries are a real concern. The odds are against him playing in all 16 regular season games. However, tight end is a brutal position in the NFL and there is some injury risk with virtually every player at the position. Greg Olsen had been the exception, but he missed nine games in 2017. Gronkowski’s ceiling continues to make him the best TE option in fantasy football. In the seasons Gronk has played 10 games or more, he averages better than 11 touchdowns. The injury concerns might push him out of the first round in many drafts, but he’s bound to be an early-round selection in all formats.