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Trade targets for your keeper leagues:
Target: Rob Gronkowski
Ed Werder reported on Sunday that there are people within the Patriots organization who “question whether Gronkowski intends to ever play this season. Whatever is holding him back now isn’t going to be healed in two weeks, because there’s nothing wrong with the arm,” a source told Werder for his story on ESPN.com.
Gronkowski is undoubtedly one of the top options at tight end when he is healthy. The two-time Pro Bowler from Arizona scored 38 touchdowns through his first three seasons. Read that stat again. When active, he has averaged 4.3 catches for 61.9 yards and 0.9 scores per game. Since entering the league in 2010, Gronkowski has had more red zone touchdown receptions than any other player (29), while ranking tenth in red zone targets (59).
The Patriots offense continues to struggle through all its personnel changes. Four of Brady’s top five passing targets from 2012 are no longer on the roster. With so many new receivers, the team has had trouble sustaining drives. Entering week six, New England ranked 22nd in the NFL in average length of offensive drives. Rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are tied for sixth in the league in dropped passes (four), while Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are tied for 17th with three apiece.
Brady has probably never needed a player more than he needs Gronkowski in 2013. With all the uncertainty surrounding the tight end’s return, there is no better time to inquire about the price of adding this beast to your roster for future success. It is certainly an aggressive and potentially dangerous move, but the risk should be greatly lessened by the low price that could be available now.
Target: DeMaryius Thomas
In Peyton Manning’s first year with the Broncos in 2012, DeMaryius Thomas was the favorite target. Manning threw to him 141 times for 94 catches, 1,434 yards, and 10 scores. Thomas was second in the NFL in receptions of 20 or more yards (29), and fourth in yards after catch (538).
The 6-foot-3 receiver from Georgia Tech is losing some attention to the other talented passing options on the team. After six weeks of play, Thomas is the third target on the team, behind both Eric Decker and Wes Welker. In addition, tight end Julius Thomas has only six fewer targets than DeMaryius Thomas. Thomas has fallen to fourth on the team in red zone targets as well. In the last two weeks, he has only 11 total targets for eight catches an no touchdowns.
Things may improve for the wide receiver. He is still sitting on the number one offense in the NFL, and Manning doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Thomas will still be in plenty of scoring opportunities, despite being the third or fourth option. Some owners may be eager to sell this stud, who has a long future ahead for your keeper franchise.
Target: Montee Ball
Montee Ball holds several NCAA records for his impressive collegiate campaign. He had 83 career touchdowns including 77 career rushing scores, which are both all-time bests. He also tied Barry Sanders’ record for most touchdowns in a season with 39, and set the record for most consecutive games with two or more scores (13). Ball was the nation’s leader in rushing yards (1,923) and yards from scrimmage (2,229) in 2011.
Last year, he ran for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Wisconsin Badger was also a Heisman finalist in 2011. His career records are even more impressive when considering that Ball rushed only 98 times for four touchdowns in his freshman year, and was the team’s number two running back in both of his first two seasons.
Though he ran for 5.6 yards per carry during college, and averaged 2,065.5 offensive yards during his junior and senior seasons, Ball has not been given much opportunity yet in his short time with the Broncos. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reported recently that his lack of snaps were due to learning the pass protection. The most important skill of a Broncos running back is the ability to keep Peyton Manning upright. Klis pointed out that the team’s original plan and expectation has been that Ball would begin to break through around weeks five to eight.
Knowshon Moreno averaged 2.8 yards per carry Sunday against the 27 point underdog Jacksonville Jaguars. And outside of three soft matchups against NFC East defenses, Moreno has only totaled 109 yards rushing at 3.0 yards per attempt. His fantasy numbers have been mind-numbing due to his goal line value, but don’t confuse fantasy with reality. Denver drafted Ball to be the man, wants him to be the man, and is working to make him the man. Exercise patience and have faith in the future upside for this young star. Ball could develop into an amazing asset in keeper leagues.
Stats and information courtesy of sports-reference.com, footballguys.com, profootballfocus.com, and uwbadgers.com.