All eyes on Pats' Gronkowski heading into Week 1

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots works out on the field before the game against the...

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots works out on the field before the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images/AFP)

DAN BILICKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:28 PM ET

It’s pretty safe to say that Gronk Watch will likely be a feature that will run more often than not in this fantasy column throughout the season.

Calling Patriots all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski injury-prone would be a bit of an understatement.

He’s coming back from a torn ACL suffered against Cleveland last season and has been taking it easy in camp so far, leading to concerns the big man wouldn’t be ready for Week 1.

That won’t be the case, according to Gronkowski himself, who has said that he will definitely play in the season-opener against Miami. The amount of snaps he plays, however, remains to be seen.

While he should be limited on the field, you can bet that the Pats will use him in red-zone situations, where he can use his big frame to create space in the end zone.

Whether you start him or not will depend on how comfortable you feel in playing a guy that won’t be out the entire game.

STEEL RESOLVE

It looks like there will be no punishment for Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount — for now. The team will not dole out any suspensions after the duo were arrested last week while Bell was allegedly under the influence of marijuana.

There was speculation that one-game bans would be in order for the backs, leaving Pittsburgh awfully short at the position for its opener against Cleveland. But, the league’s CBA forbids teams from suspending players for such violations and the NFL is painfully slow at getting to these matters. So feel free to start Bell and hold on to Blount as TD-vulture option and handcuff.

FOR STARTERS

With the season starting up shortly, teams have been announcing their starting QBs for the openers with few surprises. Chad Henne will get the call over Blake Bortles in Jacksonville, but he remains a low-end fantasy option. The rookie should take over sometime this season, but he’ll be holding the clipboard for now. Geno Smith beat out a very complacent Michael Vick to start for the Jets. While Smith does have some fantasy upside thanks to his running ability and had some very good games last season, he also had a bunch of stinkers and can be very turnover-prone. That said, it’s likely only an injury to Smith will get Vick any significant playing time. The only real shocker was free-agent arrival Matt Schaub losing the battle in Oakland to rookie Derek Carr. The Raiders are looking to the future with this choice, but we’re not sure how wise it is. Sure, Schaub had a nightmare season last year, but Carr is still a raw prospect and this might be bad call. I’d kick the other members of the Raiders passing game down a notch until we see if Carr can hold it together. Also, keep an eye on Zach Mettenberger in Tennessee. Jake Locker is the starter there, but the rookie had a nice pre-season and Locker is in a make-or-break contract year with the Titans.

KICKING UP A FIGHT

We don’t really discuss kickers much because, well, they’re rather expendable. But when a kicker with the nickname “Murderleg” is involved, you run with it. Eagles incumbent kicker Alex Henery had a little competition in camp with the aforementioned “Murderleg,” Casey Spear, and was able to hold off the undrafted free agent. But Henery wasn’t out of the woods yet, as the team has now waived him in favour of Cody Parkey, another UDFA. Parkey has a big leg and comes with some acclaim, having been the top high school kicking recruit before going to Auburn. He’s a nice option considering the Eagles should be a high-scoring team this season.

PRATER CRATERS

For those who had early draft dates, the first kicker taken was likely Matt Prater, who lit up fantasy scoreboards last season with a monster 75 PATs. But, the Broncos kicker has been suspended for four games due a violation of the substance-abuse policy. Reports also say that he was facing a year-long suspension, but his attorney was able to get it reduced. In the meantime, Brandon McManus will handle kicking duties for the high-scoring Broncos and should be a decent fantasy option if you’re streaming the position. The real lesson learned here though is that you don’t reach for kickers — even the best ones out there.


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