We never have all the information, even for healthy players. We make educated guesses about game plans and the opponent's capabilities on defense, among other things (Magic 8 Ball, for instance), but we can't know. When NFL players return from lengthy absences, they only complicate matters.
How do you decide whether to play these two?
TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronk: ready to throw down?
The media has dwelled on Gronk's dwindled muscle mass since the spring. He's reportedly improved that aspect of his conditioning since. Journalists have observed a difference. That's encouraging, but by how much?
Think about some of the plays you're used to seeing Gronkowski make: when he shields a defensive back or three from Tom Brady's window; when he outmuscles two defenders in the red zone or end zone; or when he sheds a linebacker's attempt at an arm tackle to gain a bunch of yards after the catch.
Gronk's instincts will take over on those plays, but his body wouldn't have quite the same level of response if he were short of 100 percent strength. That could lead to a pretty disappointing day, fantasy-wise. And it's not easy for players to gain weight in-season.
Gronk may very well be among the Week 4 inactives. Despite a deceptively tough matchup -- against the Atlanta Falcons -- fantasy owners can consider him a strong play if he's not. They're putting faith in oft-ambiguous Bill Belichick, but the Pats have given the sense that they won't let the tight end take the field until he's pretty much at full force, at least.
Patriots' tight end may be a go, so how about Steelers' RB?
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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