Regardless of where one falls in the Rob Gronkowski suspension debate, most people without a hatred toward the Patriots or a playoff-opening matchup vs. a Gronk owner can agree the timing is brutal.
Owners spent a first- or second-rounder on Gronk, and not having him to begin the playoffs — against a Miami 'D' he obliterated two weeks ago and most tight ends have had success against — is a bad break, just not the kind most expected in relation to him.
Gronk has always been volatile — the injuries are just the opportunity cost of the relentlessness and aggression with which he plays. Yet Gronk has never been suspended, much less for an act as egregious as Sunday's; there was no seeing this specific scenario coming.
It'd be interesting to learn what percentage of Gronk owners in the playoffs rode the big guy to a first-round bye and are able to laugh about this; we'd guess it's significant. There's surely another group unwilling to sympathize because, injury or suspension, there was always the distinct possibility of a player who's now missed at least two regular-season games in four of the past six seasons being unavailable.
Gronk will be back in Weeks 15-16, when he looks to help the Pats overtake the Steelers for the AFC's top playoff spot and avoid again running afoul in another clash with the Bills. Let's take a quick look at two potential streamers to help hurting owners — not just Gronk's, but Zach Ertz (concussion), Delanie Walker (hamstring), Hunter Henry (knee) and Charles Clay (knee) — extend their seasons, too.
Browns rookie David Njoku, who was on this week's '9 route,' has stacked his highest playtime percentage and best fantasy outing in consecutive weeks. With Josh Gordon in the fold and Corey Coleman healthy, Cleveland (don't laugh) suddenly has some serious mismatch potential across the formation for DeShone Kizer. Plus, the visiting Packers, determined last week not to get beat by Mike Evans, let Cameron Brate nearly do it instead with a couple touchdowns.
Texans sophomore Stephen Anderson is coming off his best NFL game — 5-79-1 on a whopping 12 targets in Tennessee — and his healthy 14.6-yard catch average is a reflection of his athletic, receiver-first TE profile. Anderson's opportunities will continue, as the Texans placed C.J. Fiedorowicz and Bruce Ellington on injured reserve this week. Plus, the Niners, who are hurting at safety, had allowed touchdowns to tight ends in five consecutive games prior to Sunday.