Fantasy Football Injury Reaction: How Rob Gronkowski's injury affects Malcolm Mitchell and the Patriots

Rob Gronkowski has appeared in eight games in 2016 for the New England Patriots, with only five of those being what one would consider to be impactful outings. According to Vic Carucci, Gronk will not play another down in the regular season for the Patriots (or your Fantasy team) this season.

If you're the Gronkowski owner, this is devastating news. You spent a first- or second-round pick on a guy who gave you five good games, and if you managed to survive that, you're now going to be without him in the playoffs. I'll get to possible replacements for the remainder of the season, but first I wanted to discuss the impact on the rest of the Patriots.

Tom Brady has been decidedly un-Brady in his starts without Gronkowski. The quarterback has failed to reach 20 Fantasy points in nearly 60 percent of those starts. That probably doesn't matter this week, because the Rams defense has been awful on the road. But in the Fantasy playoffs, Brady draws Baltimore in Week 14 and Denver on the road in Week 15. A week 16 matchup with the Jets is great, but you have to get there first. I would view Brady as a low end No. 1 for the rest of the season, and I'd be looking for a starter for Week 15 at least.

As for the pass-catchers in the offense, Martellus Bennett is the obvious beneficiary. But he is banged up and has actually been worse when Gronkowski has missed time. Bennett has always been a fast starter who has struggled late in the year, and I would have a hard time viewing him as any more than a borderline No. 1 tight end.

Malcolm Mitchell WR / New England Patriots (Last Two Games)
REC: 9 YDS: 140 TD: 3

The player who has stepped up the past two weeks is receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell has more catches and yards in the past two weeks than he had from Week 1-10 combined. More importantly Mitchell looks like a legitimate red zone threat who Brady trusts. Mitchell (22 percent owned) is a must-add as a touchdown-dependent No. 3 WR.

I could also see a situation where this helps the pass-catching running back, if only there was one clear option. In the past two weeks, Dion Lewis has seen 10 targets on 30 pass routes. James White has run 46 routes and seen 10 targets as well. As long as both are this heavily involved, I'll have a hard time getting excited about either. That being said, this gives me a bit more optimism about the Patriots expanding Lewis' role in the passing game. He's the superior playmaker.

Gronkowski replacements

Vernon Davis TE / Washington Redskins (2016 stats)
REC: 31 YDS: 450 TD: 2

Vernon Davis (49 percent) would be a huge add if we get a similarly negative report about the shoulder of Jordan Reed. My biggest reservation is that Davis' opponent this week is the stingiest in the league against tight ends.

Vance McDonald TE / San Francisco 49ers (2016 stats)
REC: 22 YDS: 382 TD: 4

Vance McDonald (33 percent) This is easily my favorite target, and apparently Colin Kaepernick's, too. McDonald has been very steady the past month and has a generous playoff schedule.

Ladarius Green TE / Pittsburgh Steelers (2016 stats - 3 Games)
REC: 5 YDS: 97 TD: 0

Ladarius Green (18 percent) There are reports that the Steelers want to get Green more involved. Green has been exceptionally efficient over his career, and the Steelers could use one more weapon. Green has the most upside but a floor that is almost non-existent.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Heath Cummings is a Senior Fantasy Writer that covers Daily Fantasy Sports of all types. Before coming to CBS Sports he was a staff writer for Footballguys and the host of The Fantasy Football Show on... Full Bio

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