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Why Rob Gronkowski is worth a first round pick

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TE in the first round? Yes.

USA TODAY Sports/Peter Rogers Illustrations

No other player in fantasy football gives you a bigger, more consistent edge over your opponent than Rob Gronkowski. Since pulling in 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 TDs in his sophomore season (2011), Rob Gronkowski has finished 2nd in standard scoring points per game once (2013). Gronk has finished first in standard scoring points per game every other year.

In PPR, Gronk hasn’t been quite as dominant, finishing 1st in points per game a paltry four times, and finishing 2nd twice in seven years.

If we want to be generous, tight end is a 3-players-deep position. The shortage of viable options—and huge week-to-week advantage you get from Gronk—makes him a value pick in the middle of the first round. That you’re able to take Gronk in the middle of the second is baffling. Have we all gone mad?!?!

Being the thorough analyst I am, I’ll address the only two reasonable objections to taking GronkSmash with your first pick.

First, Gronkowski has not played a full 16 game regular season since his 2011. From 2011 to 2017, he’s averaged a hair over 12 games a season. Guys who are as big as Gronk should not be that fast (or that coordinated)! That size and speed, combination has also meant that no one takes more punishment than Gronk. Can you blame a little corner diving at unbelievably swift, 265 pound Gronk’s knees?

Watching Gronkowski play is as exhilarating as it is exhausting for fantasy owners. The injury concern is a real… concern.

The other legit argument for passing on Gronk early is that Travis Kelce is going in the late-second early-third. Kelce may give you 90% of GronkSmash at a nice discount. Baby-Gronk finished #2 in overall tight end points scored in 2017 and scored the most tight end points in 2016. Kelce has proven more durable than Gronkowski as well, playing 15 games in 2017 (a healthy scratch in week 17), and 16 games in each of the 2014, ’15, and ’16 seasons.

While I buy into the idea of taking what we see in the pre-season with a grain of salt, I’m vehemently opposed to ignoring what we see in the pre-season. What we’ve seen this pre-season out of Patrick Mahomes is nothing short of remarkable. Concern that a young QB in his first year of live-action may hold back the KC offense is beginning to evaporate. Mahomes is targeting Kelce at a nice clip, and all Kelce needs is a competent QB to throw him the ball.

Despite the injury concern and the ‘Kelce is a better value’ argument, I’ll have Gronk in every league that I don’t draw a top-4 pick (and if you let him fall back to me after I picked 2nd… well, you know who you are.)

Take Gronk early. Win at TE all year. Figure out your other weaknesses on the waiver wire.