The simple answer to the question posed in the headline of this article is: I don’t know.
Thus far in 2014 Rob Gronkowski hasn’t looked like Gronk and Tom Brady hasn’t looked like Tom Brady. But Gronk’s lack of production hasn’t been due to lack of opportunity. As far as targets go, he’s pretty much in the second tier of TEs (after Jimmy Graham) where a bunch of guys have 16-19 targets. Gronk has 16 on the season. The problem is that those 16 targets have only produced 72 yards. That’s Greg Little territory.
Perhaps more interesting than Gronk’s raw target numbers is the fact that he’s been targeted on a league-leading 24 percent of his snaps according to Pro Football Focus.
Here’s the list of target/snap leaders at TE.
Travis Kelce’s 11 targets have actually produced close to double the yards that Gronk’s 16 targets have produced, for anyone keeping score at home. Thus far this season Kelce and Zach Ertz have looked more like Gronk than Gronk has.
So can he ever get right and be the same guy that wreaks havoc on the seam of a defense? I don’t know. I’m definitely worried in the places I have him. Some teams are in no trade leagues, so I’m stuck. In leagues where I can trade him, I actually think that his value is low enough after two games that I’m better taking the chance that he can correct things. At least if the poor yards/target is just an aberration through two weeks we do know that there’s a ton of usage in store when he can get on the field more.
But this is a situation where I don’t just look at it and go “it’s just two weeks, maybe it’s bad luck.” I think there are reasons to think that he was a gamble to draft based on his knee, and we should be expecting what we’re seeing.
One thing that is worth thinking about is the idea that he’s still getting his game legs back. He didn’t play at all in the preseason, so he might not be used to really going full speed yet. I think having the legs to really go full speed is an underrated reason why players coming back from injuries and NFL rookies often struggle.
I’m holding Gronk for now although if I felt like there was a chance to get back 90 percent of the second-round pick that he cost, I would probably try to protect my downside and trade out of the shares I have in him.