How experts view Rob Gronkowski’s fantasy football value

Plus: a look at Gronkowski's average draft position.

Rob Gronkowski at Patriots training camp in August, 2018.
Rob Gronkowski at Patriots training camp in August, 2018. –Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

With fantasy football drafts in full swing, it’s important to consider the 6-foot-7 playmaker who is as much of a mismatch on the field as he is in average draft position.

Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots’ 29-year-old tight end, can be seen as a fantasy enigma. He’s consistently ranked in the top 25 players to draft, yet plays a position fundamentally regarded as one of the least important to pick early.

So, what exactly is Gronkowski’s fantasy value?

It’s a question that’s pondered every season by fantasy newcomers and veterans alike. Here’s a rundown of what the experts have to say.

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First, to get a sense of how Gronkowski is rated in comparison with his fellow tight ends, Pro Football Focus got right to the point:

He now owns five of the highest six grades we have ever given a tight end, and a career average of 2.40 yards per route run – a figure only two other players at the position have eclipsed over a single season in the time he has been in the league.

He is the gold standard at the position.

In other words, if you’re choosing a tight end first, he’s generally the one.

There are exceptions, naturally. In a 10-team ESPN mock draft, Gronkowski was selected two picks after Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the third round.

Fantasy Pros writer Matt Taglierre explained the complicated choice between Gronkowski and Kelce:

It’s not a clear-cut situation anymore with Gronkowski atop the tight end board, though I’ve kept him there myself. While the Patriots got rid of Brandin Cooks, the Chiefs and Travis Kelce added Sammy Watkins to further cloudy the target situation. Gronkowski is one of the few tight ends you can put down in marker that he’ll see 100-plus targets if healthy, and he just happens to play with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. He gives you an advantage at the most unpredictable position in fantasy. He’s finished as a top-12 option in 70.6 percent of his career games, while Travis Kelce’s sits at 57.1 percent.

In overall average draft position (ADP), Gronkowski is first in his position. As more context, here’s his overall ADP across major fantasy platforms:

ESPN: 20.1

Yahoo: 19.7

CBS Sports: 20.1

NFL.com: 21.61

One issue with Gronkowski has been his capacity to stay on the field for an entire season. Injuries aren’t his fault, of course, but in a dispassionate fantasy football analysis of his value, it’s a factor worth considering.

Sporting News writer Alex Brezinski advises avoiding the Patriots tight end:

All of the arm, knee, and back injuries that have plagued his stellar career could haunt him on any play. At his likely second- or third-round asking price, he’s too big of a risk to take a gamble on this season.

Still, Gronkowski’s overall production speaks for itself. In 2013 and 2016, injuries limited him to under 10 games. But in every other season of his career, the Patriots’ tight end has either amassed over 1,000 receiving yards, double-digit touchdown catches, or both.

As Forbes fantasy football writer Zach Petersel wrote regarding the tight end position: “It’s Gronk, and then there’s everybody else.”

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