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Fantasy Football News 2021

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Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard returned to the practice field at the end of July, but that doesn't mean he's all the way back physically, coming off the Achilles' tendon tear that ended his 2020 season. “He’s not there yet," HC Bruce Arians said in his Monday press conference. "He had a chance to make a couple grimy chances in the end zone today [and] didn’t come up with them. I expect him to make those. He’s still catching up to the speed of it and the physicality of it. He’s been out a long time, so he needs this camp.” Howard remains a later-round flier in all formats, so it's easy to take on the risk that he doesn't rebound all the way. The upside, of course, is that he does get back close to 100% of his previous level and takes the receiving lead among Tampa Bay TEs. We'll see how he progresses through the rest of camp and preseason.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard remains on track in his recovery from October's torn Achilles. “Yeah, he’s really close now,” HC Bruce Arians said. “He looks fantastic working out every day.” Howard is tentatively expected to be able to get some work in during June minicamp and sure seems to be trending toward being ready for Week 1. Anything QB Tom Brady and the Bucs get from him this year will be a bonus. Note that Howard out-targeted Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard has been setback-free so far in his recovery from October's torn Achilles, HC Bruce Arians said Tuesday. Arians added that Howard is "real close" to getting back to pre-injury form, although that seems optimistic for an injury that often takes a year-plus to return from. It does sound like he has a good chance to be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign. It's worth remembering that Howard out-targeted TE Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.

The Bucs and TE Rob Gronkowski have agreed to a new 1-year, $10 million deal. Gronk was always expected to return to Tampa to make a run at another Super Bowl and has been projected that way in our rankings. He played in all 16 regular-season games last year for the 1st time since 2011, compiling a 45-623-7 line on 77 targets. That landed him 8th among TEs in PPR points. Gronk benefitted from injuries to both WR Chris Godwin and TE O.J. Howard, who will be back for 2021, so we have him projected for fewer targets and fantasy points.

Bucs TE Cameron Brate (back) is questionable for the Super Bowl. After being added to the injury report on Thursday, he didn't practice on Friday. We'll get Brate's game status around 5 pm ET on Sunday. His absence would mean a boost in projections for both TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Antonio Brown.

Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians confirmed on Sirius XM NFL Radio Wednesday that he'll be "playing everybody" and "playing to win" in Sunday's game against the Falcons. He said they want to get to 11-5 and take the 5th seed rather than drop to the 6th with a loss. It's nice to hear such confirmation if you're planning to play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans or any other Buc in Week 17 fantasy.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard will miss the rest of the season with his Achilles injury, according to NFL Network's James Palmer. Howard had been playing a significant role, tallying 19 targets through 4 games. His absence should mean more action for TEs Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate, plus Tampa's WRs.

Bucs HC Bruce Arians called '12' personnel his "base offense" on Thursday. ('12' personnel means 1 RB, 2 WRs and 2 TEs.) The Bucs went '12' on 23% of their snaps last season -- the 8th highest rate in the league. Over the past 2 seasons, only 1 team (the 2019 Eagles) has gone '12' on more than 36% of their snaps. We'll buy the Bucs using more 2-TE looks this year after adding Rob Gronkowski to O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. But don't expect it to be their most common alignment. It's still unlikely that more than 1 of those TEs is a reliable fantasy option. The other result of more 2-TE sets will be more snaps outside the numbers for WR Chris Godwin. That might ding his volume a tad but shouldn't be a big concern overall. Godwin was actually more efficient outside the numbers last season, averaging 2.27 yards per route run vs. 2.22 in the slot.

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski told NFL Network's Michael Giardi that he's "feeling good, feeling healthy." He admitted that his body "100% needed a rest." Gronk appeared to drop a lot of weight over the last year but said he's back up to 250 pounds -- 10 to 15 pounds lighter than he last played at. His conditioning has suddenly become 1 of the biggest fantasy storylines of the offseason, considering it'll have been about a year-and-a-half between his last 2 games.

ESPN's Adam Schefter -- and others -- report that the Buccaneers are sending a 4th-round pick to the Patriots for TE Rob Gronkowski and a 7th-rounder, pending a physical. The news follows recent rumors that Gronk was looking to return to the NFL. The trade to Tampa Bay obviously reunites him with QB Tom Brady. It also complicates the outlook for Bucs TE O.J. Howard, unless he can move on in his own trade. Bruce Arians' use of Howard disappointed fantasy owners mightily in the HC's 1st year with the Bucs. But there would be little reason for this deal unless Tampa planned to get the ball to Gronkowski plenty. The 31-year-old (as of May 14) declined in 2018 but still ranked 9th in PPR points per game among TEs.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski on Sunday announced via Instagram that he's retiring. That leaves New England with Stephen Anderson, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse at the position. Hollister and Dwayne Allen combined for the team's only 7 TE receptions outside of Gronk's 47. The oft-injured veteran clearly declined over the past couple of years, but we also expect New England to address the position in at least the NFL Draft or free agency now that Gronkowski's done. Even if they add a TE or 2, Gronk's departure figures to leave targets and red-zone chances available for multiple positions.

Patriots WR Josh Gordon announced Thursday that he's stepping away from the team to focus on his mental health. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Gordon is facing another indefinite suspension for violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. Don't expect to see him on the field again this season -- and this could spell the end of Gordon's NFL career. It's obviously a significant loss for the Patriots. Gordon has played over 70% of New England offensive snaps since arriving and averaged 6.2 targets per game. WR Chris Hogan would seem like the big winner, but he averaged just 4.7 targets and 2.3 catches over the first 3 weeks before the Gordon trade. We should see some more WR Cordarrelle Patterson, while WR Julian Edelman, TE Rob Gronkowski and RB James White could also pick up an extra target or 2.

Update: Gordon has been suspended indefinitely for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. It's the 5th suspension of his NFL career and could result in permanent banishment from the league.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) is inactive for today’s game against the Titans. New England has a Week 11 bye, so we’ll see if Gronk is ready to return come Week 12.

The Boston Herald's Kevin Duffy reports that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) is not expected to play against the Titans on Sunday. That jibes with ESPN's Adam Schefter's report earlier this week. New England has a Week 11 bye, so Gronk will have had nearly a month off when the team returns to action in Week 12. "The Pats seem to be hoping that some rest in November will allow Gronkowski to recapture his top form down the stretch," Duffy writes. Fantasy owners are hoping for the same.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Titans after 3 limited practices. Gronk got in just 2 limited practices last week before ending up inactive, so he’s in a slightly better situation this week. And, more importantly, we’ll find out his status by noon ET on Sunday. If active, Gronk will be a mid-range TE1.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) put in a limited practice on Wednesday. He was limited last Wednesday, sat out on Thursday and limited again Friday before missing the Sunday night game. We'll track his status over the next few days, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that New England might opt to hold Gronk out of Sunday's game against the Titans with their bye coming in Week 11.

ESPN's Adam Schefter suggested on Monday Night Countdown that the Patriots could hold TE Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) out of Sunday's game against the Titans with their bye coming in Week 11. "So if they rest Gronkowski this week, that would get him two weeks of rest for the price of one," Schefter said. "But these issues have nagged at Gronkowski all year long. They continue to do the same." We'll track Gronk's status this week, but fantasy owners should be making other plans for Week 10.

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