The respective statuses of two of the NFL's best tight ends next week — the first week of fantasy football playoffs — will have a potentially huge impact on how things play out. Zach Ertz (concussion) and Rob Gronkowski (suspension) have thrown a thorn into the sides of their fantasy owners. Here's what you should do if you own one or the other:
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
Before a few injury hiccups, Ertz was on pace to be the best statistical tight end in the NFL. He's had 57 catches for 663 yards and seven touchdowns this season — all of this with snagging just four catches for 32 yards in two of the last three games (in the middle he had 103 yards againsgt Chicago). He also didn't play in the Broncos game in Week 9. He exited the Eagles loss in Seattle with a possible concussion and didn't return. In Week 14 against the Rams, his status is up in the air.
Doug Pederson, Philly's head coach said he was still in the concussion protocal but was doing well and participating in team meetings. If he is unable to practice this week, it doesn't necessaily mean he won't play Sunday.
"You know what, in his case, again, he's had a lot of reps with Carson [Wentz]," the coach said Wednesday. "He's had a lot of reps with some of the plays that we have in the game plan. I'm not as concerned with something like that; if it's maybe an offensive or defensive linemen, linebacker who has to see and recognize a lot of things — we do play with a lot of multiple tight end sets. [Tight ends coach] Justin Peelle does a great job of preparing those guys during the week, so probably not as concerned."
If he doesn't play, Trey Burton may be a better add than Brent Celek — but each would be a stretch. His absense would probably mean more targets for wide recievers Nelson Agholor or Alshon Jeffery.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Gronk lost his appeal and will be suspended next week against the Dolphins. His production will be hard to fill (55 catches for 847 yards and seven touchdowns) but the Pats are no strangers to playing without him — as injury woes have been a part of life for the Pats and Gronkowski over the last few years.
“It’s big shoes to fill for sure,” running back Rex Burkhead said. “That’s the great thing about this team, we’re always trying to find a way to step up. The coach will find roles and situations to put guys in to make those plays. We have guys who can fill in."
That guy is Dwayne Allen, the rarely thrown to back up who has had a starring role in the past with the Colts. He has 19 career touchdowns and could be worth adding in a one-time play for Week 14 if you own Gronkowski.