Rob Gronkowski has missed a full weeks worth of camp: The Fantasy Implications

New England tight end and fantasy football stud, Rob Gronkowski, has been quietly absent from The Patriots mandatory minicamp.

While according to both Gronkowski and Head Coach Bill Belichick he has been busy doing “other things“, ESPN’s Mike Reiss is reporting that the star is “working back from [an] undisclosed ailment that isn’t viewed as a long range concern”.

Gronk has had a rocky injury history, including a broken arm in 2012 that had him on the sideline for six games, a torn ACL in week seven 2013 that ended his season, and four surgeries on his forearm in 2013. Gronkowski also had a lot of people worried in 2015 when he suffered a hard hit to his previously ACL repaired knee. Though the hit looked nasty, Gronk was only out one game.

While his current injury is very likely and as report a minor one, it is worth noting for fantasy players. Bill Belichick is doing all he can to keep his stud player fresh, but being Tom Brady and The Patriots go-to-guy does take a toll on the body. It makes sense that Belichick would continue to keep a close eye and a tight leash on Gronk through the 2016 season as well. The Patriots already took a step in this direction by drafting former Chicago Bear TE Martellus Bennett, and Bennett isn’t just a pretty face. He was a consistent performer for The Bears and beat out even Gronk for receptions in 2014. It’s hard to imagine him not eating in to some of Gronkowski’s fantasy points.

Gronkowski is one of the best offensive weapons on the field and barring injury it’s hard to imagine him not cracking the top five most productive fantasy tight ends in 2016. However, I’m tempering my usually high expectations for Gronk this upcoming season. According to FantasyPros.com his current ADP is in the first round, and that’s just too steep a price to pay for me.

 

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The Future of the NFL: Is the extra point a thing of the past?

“Put it in our hands. I want the ball. Any player would relish that opportunity.” -Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

Last season there was much ado about the new extra point rule changes. PATs, which were formerly placed on the two yard line, were moved to the 15 yard line. Many speculated about the impact this key rule change would have on the NFL. Well the stats are in.

  • In 2015 there were only five teams to not attempt a two point conversion as opposed to eight in 2014.
  • Two Point Conversion attempts increased by 65% (!)
  • PAT success rates dropped by 5.1%

Obviously the change had quite the impact. The Pittsburgh Steelers in particular saw great success in 2015 when going for two. They attempted 11 two point conversions (more than double any team attempts in 2014) and were successful 72.7% of the time, or eight scores for those out there counting. Had Big Ben stayed healthy the number would have very likely been higher. So it’s no surprise that reports coming from The Steelers camp suggest that there will be more of the same from The Pittsburgh offense in 2016. In fact, Roethlisberger wants to go for two every time.

Other quarterbacks are weighing in on the two point question. Drew Brees went on the record on the Dan Patrick Show saying that he is “all for” going for two every time.

And although teams considering the change in offensive strategy may seem like pioneers, the math is sound. If the PAT percentage remains the same from last season, teams would only have to convert 47.1% of attempts to make up the difference. (The 2015 conversion average was 47.9%) If I was a betting woman (and I am) I’d place my money on the number of two point conversion attempts continuing to increase in 2016.

Fantasy Perspective:

Two point conversions are very likely to be more of a staple in offensive strategy next season. This obviously means more opportunities for fantasy points. The beneficiaries of this are strong mobile quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton and pass catching running backs such as Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Matt Forte. The obvious losers are (as usual) the kickers.

Read what I had to say last season about the rule change on YourFantasyFootballCoach.com

Kickers and the Extra Point

Jacoby Jones joins the Pittsburgh Steelers: Should force an interesting conversation with Mike Tomlin

Back in 2013 Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin caused quite the stir by interfering with what looked to be a touchdown return by the then Baltimore Raven Jacoby Jones. Tomlin claimed to not be aware of how far onto the field he was at the time, and since Tomlin has a pretty clean record otherwise, I’d be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Either way, their first few face to face meetings between the two may have some interesting undertones. I expect Jones to take over some of the return duties for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the season ending injury to stud running back Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh is going to be taking more precautions to protect their other super star, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and the Steelers have a pretty up close and personal view, of just how lethal Jones can be on the return.

We wish Jones luck with his new team. Watch the video of Tomlin’s interference here:

Le’Veon Bell Leaves Game Due to Serious Injury

Le’Veon Bell left the game this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with what appears to be a pretty serious knee injury. Anytime a running back is unable to support his own weight on a leg is scary, and it appeared he was clutching his knee in particular.

Initial reports are slightly optimistic. It appears Bell may have avoided a serious ACL tear, and the staff is hoping his injury is limited to his MCL. MCL tears are typically easier to recover from than ACL tears. If Bell escapes with just a torn MCL, the Steelers star running back could be back on the field in six to eight weeks depending on severity. If it’s an ACL tear he will of course be out for the season, and require surgery and extensive rehabilitation. Le’Veon Bell is an amazing running back and an integral part of The Steelers. We’re all wishing him a speedy recovery. Check back for updates on his injury status.

The Steelers went on to lose the game 10-16.

The Pittsburgh Steelers Have Release Josh Scobee

Josh Scobee has learned the first rule of football. Don’t piss off Snoop dog.

I’m sure Scobee’s release doesn’t come as a shock to many. Josh Scobee has performed at a less than desirable level during his employment with The Steelers. He missed a field goal early in the season that left Head Coach Mike Tomlin, and The Steelers organization doubtful of their kicker’s potential. As a result Pittsburgh turned it’s eye instead to the two point conversion, and took more risks in the red zone. In the wake of a lackluster performance, Twitter has been less than kind.

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It was Scobee’s Thursday night performance that sealed his fate. Scobee missed two critical field goals from 40+ yards. As a direct response to his less than stellar performance, The Steelers chose to go for it on a fourth down in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. They failed to convert on the down. They went on to lose to the Ravens by three.

The Steelers have officially signed free agent Chris Boswell. Scobee finished his tenure with The Steelers making 6 of 7 extra points, and 6 of 10 field goals. It’s currently a hard time in the NFL for kickers.

Ryan Mallett Named Houston Texans Starting Quarterback

While the Texans coaching staff are staying mum on any concrete decisions, many media outlets are reporting that Ryan Mallett has been named the Houston Texans starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Brian Hoyer was named the starter week one after a close preseason battle between the two. Mallett was pretty outspoken about how he felt about the decision. Mallett vented his frustration at a media conference, saying “’I’m disappointed. I don’t agree with it, but it’s for the best of the team, so I’m just going to wait till my turn gets called, and I mean at some point, it’s going to happen this year”. I guess he was right, though his opportunity has come quicker than even he imagined.

Hoyer failed to impress week one against the Kansas City Chiefs. He fumbled once, threw for 236 yards, had one touchdown, and one interception. Under his leadership the team managed only ten points in almost four quarters. Mallett was subbed in late in the fourth quarter where he managed to pass for 98 yards, including one touchdown. With him at the helm, the Texans were able to score twice, and almost rally back to beat the chiefs. It wasn’t just Mallet that looked good. With Mallett under center, primary receiver DeAndre Hopkins was finally able to shine, and the offense was finally able to get into a groove.

So what does this mean for the Texans? And what does it mean for fantasy players? I think that in both cases the answer is the same. Every player should see a boost in production with Mallett holding the reins, both on the field and in fantasy scoring. While I wouldn’t rush out just yet to claim Mallett off the waiver wire, I’m excited to see what he can bring to the Texans offense, and with the Houston Texans rushing game stalled due to the loss of running back Arian Foster, there should be plenty of passing action.  I listed wide receiver Nate Washington as one of my targets for the week two waiver wire, and I’m sticking by my guns. I think both Hopkins and Washington should see double digit points against the Carolina Panthers defense.