Fantasy Football: Rob Gronkowski’s retirement announcement leaves big questions for Buccaneers (for now)

Throughout the holiday period, Rob Gronkowski has been consistently selected in the Fantasy Football drafts despite not actually being on a roster yet. But it looks like these shots will end up getting lost, like The future Hall of Famer announced Tuesday that he is retiring – again – instead of going back to the pirates as many of us expected.

Of course, as Gronkowski’s longtime teammate Tom Brady mentioned earlier this season, retirement announcements aren’t consistent. In fact, Gronkowski himself retired after the 2018 season, only to join Brady when he went to Tampa during the 2020 season, and eventually played two more years. Will the 33-year-old return despite this latest announcement? According to his agent, Drew Rosenhouse, You should not rule out the possibility entirely.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Brady called him during the season to come back and Rob answered the call,” Rosenhouse told ESPN shortly after Gronkowski’s announcement. “It’s just my opinion but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”

That’s all there is to say, don’t tear up these lists of the best balls just yet. And don’t settle for Cameron Pratt as TE1 for the 2022 season. It’s possible that Gronkowski could choose to return during the season or even before, so let’s take a minute to think about how they handle the Buccaneers’ passing game, especially their tight ends.

Because this offense now looks very different than it did last season. Gronkowski is gone and so is Antonio Brown – although that was at the end of last season. OJ Howard, the No. 2 tight end, is also out of the picture after signing with the Bills, while Chris Godwin, the top-gross expected on offense, is in big question in the first week as he continues to recover from January’s ACL surgery. He will likely be acquitted in time for the start of the season, but he looks more likely to open a training camp on the list of those physically unable to perform, to say the least.

That leaves Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette as the only returning Buccaneers to have at least 40 assists and are likely to be ready for the first week. Along with Evans, it’s out of the question that he could be a fantasy must-have option at least at the start of the season. Gage pulls off his career best numbers with the Falcons last season, averaging 15.6 points over his last eight PPR games – numbers he could be able to replicate as Brady receiver No.

Cameron Pratt also looks like a potential beneficiary of Gronkowski’s absence, especially with Howard out of the picture. Brate wasn’t a non-factor mostly during the Brady era, but it was a viable fictional option in the past. He’s just going to need to be a lot better than he was last season – he only had 245 yards on 30 catches and 57 goals. At 31 in a few days, Brate’s upside will likely be limited, but he may have some oomph as a low-key starter option for Fantasy.

There still seems to be a hole in this offense, at least until Goodwin is healthy. Evans will get a lot of goals, as will Gage, but this was the team with the most heavy assists in the league last season, with five players averaging at least 4.6 receptions per game. There’s plenty of room for someone else to step up — maybe someone like Tyler Johnson or Cyril Grayson, or maybe novice running back Rashad White, who had 43 assists in 11 games at Arizona State last season. Any of these players could be a viable target of late, especially in the deeper formats.

Or maybe Goodwin is healthy by week one and Gronkowski chooses to come back, in which case, the status quo should prevail. Neither of them appears to be the most likely outcome at this point, but it’s entirely possible that Gronkowski simply wouldn’t want to go through another training camp, but would opt to return to the team sooner. He actually did it once, after all.

Right now, the Buccaneers are entering the season with some certainty — they’ll go through a lot, and Evans, Gage and Leonard Fortnite are likely to be at the top of the hierarchy — and probably just as many questions. These questions leave plenty of room for potential sleepers to appear in the imagination, but there is also plenty of time to answer these questions in other ways.

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