New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Pats TE Spot a Position to Watch for in Fantasy in 2010

The National Football Post is getting ready for Fantasy Football in 2010, and one spot they have put a target on is the Pats tight end spot. Here is what they have to say:

Battleground: Foxborough, Massachusetts
Position: Tight end
Players in the mix: Alge Crumpler (6-2, 262, 10th season), Rob Gronkowski (6-6, 264, rookie), Aaron Hernandez (6-2, 245, rookie)
Frontrunner: Gronkowski
Better value: Hernandez

Analysis: The tight end position went through a major overhaul in New England this past offseason as the services of six-year veteran Ben Watson were not retained, which opened the door for an influx of new talent. Veteran and former Tennessee Titan Alge Crumpler was signed and rookies Rob Gronkowski (Arizona, 2nd round) and Aaron Hernandez (Florida, 4th round) were drafted.

Owners can go ahead and leave Crumpler off their draft boards in an effort to make this situation easier to understand. Over the past two years he’s only caught a grand total of 51 passes for 479 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, if the Patriots thought he was the answer, they wouldn’t have used TWO draft picks on tight ends.

That leaves us with Gronkowski and Hernandez. Gronkowski garnered a lot of hype leading up to draft day, as the former Wildcat is an impressive mix of size, speed and power. However, the 21-year old missed the entire 2009 season due to a back injury that some feel may not be 100% healed. The upside is that Gronkowski will likely start the season as the No. 1 tight end in New England and if he can stay healthy, he’ll have a very good shot at scoring 5+ touchdowns with Tom Brady(notes) running the show.

Hernandez is a pass-catching specialist that hauled in 68 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns with the Gators last season. The upside here is that his speed, hands and route running ability will allow head coach Bill Belichick to line the 20-year old up in the slot, even when another tight end is already on the field. Hernandez may not be as polished of a blocker as Gronkowski, but that is why the Pats brought in Alge Crumpler.

In fantasy leagues of 12 or less teams, none of these players will wind up being drafted, which is why it is important to monitor their progress on the waiver wire. However, owners who play in deeper fantasy leagues can put a late-round TE2 grade on both Gronkowski and Hernandez.


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