Halfway through the fantasy football regular season it’s time to check in on your favorite fantasy relevant (or not so relevant) former Arizona Wildcats in the NFL.
TE Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
2012 stats: 35 catches, 434 yards, 5 TDs
- Week 4 (@BUF) – 5 catches, 104 yards, TD
- Week 5 (DEN) – 4 catches, 35 yards
- Week 6 (@SEA) – 6 catches, 61 yards
- Week 7 (NYJ) – 6 catches, 78 yards, 2 TDs
Gronkowski rewarded owners who didn’t trade him away in a panic after one bad game (2 catches for 21 yards on 3 targets) against the Baltimore Ravens in week three.
All he’s done in the last four weeks is average 5 catches for 69 yards on 9 targets, finding the endzone three times during that stretch.
After seven weeks, Gronk is second in targets (51) and receptions (35), first in yards (434) and tied for first in touchdowns (5).
With 69 points in standard scoring, Gronk has regained his title as the league’s top tight end after a slow start.
Only two other players, Tony Gonzalez (Falcons) and Owen Daniels (Texans) have 60 or more points so far this season.
Gronk’s numbers aren’t receiver-worthy like they were last year…but he’s still the best TE in the NFL and well ahead of fellow transcendent receiving tight end Jimmy Graham…who was considered the only player on Gronk’s level heading into 2012.
The second half of the Patriots’ schedule sets up nicely for Gronk.
Owners will have to suffer through a bye next week but after that it goes Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to round out the fantasy regular season through week 13.
All but the Colts rank in the bottom half against stopping the pass.
A top five passing defense in the San Francisco 49ers during the playoffs in week 15 isn’t such a great match up, but if Gronk owners survive it they’ll get to start him against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars the following week.
WR Mike Thomas (Jacksonville Jaguars)
2012 stats: 9 catches, 61 yards
- Week 4 (@IND) – 1 catch, 8 yards
- Week 5 (CIN) – 1 catch, 9 yards
- Week 6 (CHI) – 4 catches, 15 yards
- Week 7 (@OAK) – 2 catches, 17 yards
Well some grabs (2.33) the last four weeks are better than the none (0.66) Thomas was averaging the first three weeks, but his numbers are still far from fantasy relevant.
Thomas got the start three weeks ago against the Chicago Bears but failed to take advantage of the four catches on eight targets…five more than he’s seen in any other game this season.
His 20 targets are third most on the team but he ranks fifth in catches and seventh in yards.
Of the 11 Jaguars to catch a pass this season, Thomas has less yards after contact (3) than all but the backup tight end Zach potter who managed just one yard after catching his only pass this season.
The player who took his job on the other hand continues to make it happen, having found the endzone three times on just 12 grabs.
Along with scores, second-year man Cecil Shorts also leads all Jaguars receivers in yards, receptions of 20 or more yards at five and is tied for most catches for first downs with nine.
With stud running back MJD injured and wide out Laurent Robinson slow to return from a concussion he suffered three weeks ago, there could be a few more balls to go around…but a dinged-up quarterback in Blaine Gabbert or even a healthy Chad Henne under center won’t do much to help the cause.
He may not be on your “watch list,” but he should be on your “watch” list, as the plot thickens with every play in Jacksonville.
WR Juron Criner (Oakland Raiders)
2012 stats: 2 catches, 29 yards
- Week 4 (DEN) – 2 catches, 29 yards
- Week 5 (BYE)
- Week 6 (@ATL) – N/A
- Week 7 (JAC) – N/A
Criner picked up a few catches in garbage time when the Raiders were down big to the Denver Broncos.
For now he’s been relegated to mop-up duty behind fellow rookie Rod Streeter, who continues to impress with his hands, route running and body control…and the production to back it up.
Criner did however receive a few looks his way in the endzone against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Oakland lacks a big body in the red zone…and with a red zone touchdown rankings near the bottom of the league (29th)…it shows.
As the Raiders biggest receiver at 6’2ish” 220 lbs., Criner could be the answer.
Palmer is 11th in attempts just 23rd in touchdown passes…averaging just one a game.
If Criner and Palmer ever get into a rhythm, especially in the red zone, he could be a sneaky deep-league desperation play later in the year.
For now he still has to worry about making it on the field before he can worry about making plays on it.
K Nick Folk (New York Jets)
2012 stats: 11/11 FGs (long of 54), 18/18 XPs
- Week 4 (SF) – N/A
- Week 5 (HOU) – 1/1 FG (made 21), 2/2 XPs
- Week 6 (IND) – 5/5 XPs
- Week 7 (@NE) – 4/4 FGs (made 54, 43, 43), 2/2 XPs
If you need a bye week fill-in (except for next week) or your league penalizes misses…Folk might be your guy.
The dude is 11/11 this season…with a long of 54.
Of the 34 kickers to attempt a field goal this year only eight are still perfect…just two in the top 20 including Folk.
Last weekend against the Patriots was the first time all season Folk was able to show off his range.
He followed up nailing his first attempt of 40 or more yards, a 54-yarder to end the first half, with back-to-back 43-yarders late in the game.
With the 3/3 effort, Folk rejoined the top half of kickers in points.
He has now had three weeks with double-digit points including a season high of 18 points in week seven.
QB Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)
With the firing of a guy he went out on a limb to promote from O-line to defensive coordinator, head coach Andy Reid put everyone on notice over the bye week.
No one’s job is safe, including struggling starting quarterback Michael Vick’s, if the 3-3 Eagles don’t get things turned around in a hurry…but until then the rookie Wildcat is still playing the waiting game.