Raybon: The Fantasy Football Impact of Rob Gronkowski’s Retirement

Mar 25, 2019 10:44 AM EDT
Credit:

Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (11)

  • Rob Gronkowski has retired after nine seasons in the NFL.
  • Chris Raybon breaks down how his retirement affects the fantasy value of QB Tom Brady, WR Julian Edelman, RBs James White & Sony Michel and more.

It’s time to bid Rob Gronkowski farewell.

Two things…

1) We all know why Gronk really retired when he did:

2) Gronk retiring provides one more reason not to watch the NFL, which by my conservative calculations leaves fantasy football responsible for roughly 99.9% of the league’s fans on Sundays — and 1000% of its fans on Thursdays. (Don’t debate me on either of these things. They are fact.).

Since Gronk entered the league in 2010, he’s had an outsized impact on the Patriots offense:

  • Points per game: 30.7 with Gronk | 26.8 without Gronk
  • Points per drive: 2.61 with Gronk | 2.11 without Gronk

While scoring fewer points is obviously bad for all involved in fantasy, Gronk also leaves behind a 16% target share and 24% air-yard share from last year, so although the offense might take a step back, Gronk’s departure could be a net gain for the receivers still on the Pats roster and maybe even the running game.

Let’s break down how Gronk’s retirement affects each of the fantasy-relevant Patriots.

Note: All average draft position (ADP) data is from DRAFT bestball (half-PPR) leagues and Fantasy Football Calculator as of Mar. 25.

QB Tom Brady

ADP: QB20/133.4 overall (DRAFT) | QB12/102.5 overall (FF Calc)

Brady was not a particularly good fantasy quarterback in 2018. He finished as the QB11 overall but was tied for QB14 on a per-game basis — a far cry from his QB4 overall and QB7 per-game finish in 2017.

Based on his splits with and without Gronk, Brady is likely to continue trending downward.

  • Brady with Gronk: 24.0 of 36.5 (65.9%) | 289.1 yards | 2.18 TD | 0.48 INT
  • Brady without Gronk: 22.8 of 38.3 (59.5%) | 260.0 yards | 1.75 TD | 0.64 INT

Absent suspension-driven rage, a reinstated Josh Gordon and receiving threats better than wideouts Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington and tight ends Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister and Stephen Anderson, the soon-to-be 42-year-old Brady should be treated as no better than the middling QB2 he’s being valued as on DRAFT.

DRAFT HIM AS: A QB2 rather than a QB1 (and please, please, please DO NOT draft him if Josh Allen is still available)

WR Julian Edelman

ADP: WR18/46.3 overall (DRAFT) | WR16/40.6 overall (FF Calc PPR) | WR24/58.3 overall (FF Calc non-PPR)