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FFL: Week 3 | NFL: Week 3

Patriots adjust to life without Gronk

Wed Jul 24 6:42pm ET
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Matt Slater, Benjamin Watson, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Matt LaCosse

New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick adjusts the microphones before speaking to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football free safety Devin McCourty listens to a question during a news conference, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football special teamer Matthew Slater speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football running back James White speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football running back James White speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are back at work, and things are already a lot quieter.

Rob Gronkowski has retired, and the locker room is a more serious place without the fun-loving tight end who once declared himself the life of the party - in garbled Spanish, no less.

''There's only one Gronk,'' running back James White said on Wednesday, when the Patriots reported for training camp. ''You can't replace that personality. He's a great football player, but you've got to play with who's out here.''

A four-time All-Pro who was too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for defensive backs to bring down, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in an injury-plagued nine-year career. He helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl five times, winning three rings.

But he was also a larger-than-life personality known for emphatically spiking the ball after a touchdown catch; he once tried to do the same with an opponent, explaining after drawing a penalty ''I took him and threw him out of the club.''

Gronk's offseason partying - thrice starting with the Super Bowl post-game events - was a staple of social media, and he once announced in the locker room after a win: ''Yo soy Fiesta!''

''Rob was one-of-a-kind, obviously, on the field, with what he's able to do as a player. We see that each and every week over the last nine years,'' special teams captain Matthew Slater said.

''His fun-loving spirit and personality, and his child-like joy that he brought each and every day to the workplace. His humility - just a genuine human being - certainly, those things are hard to come by in today's time, so we'll miss that.''

But Gronkowski last played a full, 16-game season in 2011, with injuries to his back, knee, ankle and arm limiting his ability to stay on the field. He hinted at retirement after the 2017 season, and then made it official this March - a few months shy of his 30th birthday - saying on Instagram ''it's time to move forward and move forward with a big smile.''

''That's the thing in football - the one thing that's consistent is change,'' defensive back Devin McCourty said. ''He looks like he's having an awesome time on Instagram. I'm really happy for him being able to have a great career and leave the game on your own terms. We'll see how it works out for us.''

A second-round draft pick in 2010, Gronkowski caught just 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns last season. (He added six catches for 87 yards in the 13-3 Super Bowl victory over the Rams, including two receptions on New England's only touchdown drive.)

His 12 career playoff touchdown receptions and 81 postseason catches are the most by a tight end in NFL history. His 79 career TD catches are third most for a tight end.

Without him, the Patriots have brought in Matt LaCosse from the Denver Broncos as well as Benjamin Watson, who started his career in New England in 2004 before bouncing around the league. (Watson will miss the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.)

But there's also a lingering doubt that Gronkowski is gone for good.

''He'll do what's best for him, but anybody that comes in this locker room is always welcomed with open arms,'' McCourty said, throwing in a dig at his twin brother, Jason. ''We accept all guys. We took my brother in last year. He struggled for nine years in the NFL, so you talk about a guy like Gronk coming back, I think that'll be a lot easier.''

Devin McCourty had also gone into the offseason unsure if he would return.

''I'm still here, huh,'' he said on Wednesday. ''The fun hasn't stopped so I won't stop either.''

Player Notes
Delanie Walker Sep 20 4:10am ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker was productive against a tough Jaguars Defense on Thursday night. Despite constant pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota throughout the contest, the veteran still managed to pull in seven receptions for 64 yards. The 35-year-old has remained efficient throughout the first three games of the season and has been one of Mariota's favorite targets in a semi-struggling offense. Walker is worth a start in most formats moving ahead until he starts to fizzle.

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Tajae Sharpe Sep 20 4:00am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe made two catches against Jacksonville on Thursday night but still managed to accrue 70 yards in the process. It was the best showing of the season for the 24-year-old despite the lackluster play of the Titans offense against a dominant Jaguars Defense that recorded nine sacks. Nonetheless, Sharpe hasn't done enough to earn a place on anything outside of 14-man rosters, with that even being a stretch at the moment.

From RotoBaller

Adam Humphries Sep 20 3:50am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries caught six of his nine targets during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday, finishing with a game-high 93 yards. After an uneventful two weeks before this one, the fifth-year man finally came to life against a tough Jaguars Defense that bombarded quarterback Marcus Mariota by recording nine sacks on the night. Though the 26-year-old hasn't done enough to earn his way on to fantasy rosters in most formats, fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on his progress in the weeks ahead.

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Derrick Henry Sep 20 3:30am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. As the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks while limiting the Tennessee offense to just seven points on the night, Henry provided the only source of hope for a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old has been a consistent producer by scoring in each of the team's first three games. Look for him to keep it going against the Falcons in Week 4. He should continue to keep his must-start designation, at least for now.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Sep 20 3:20am ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn't get things going in the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. Though Mariota managed to throw for 304 yards, things were miserable for the 25-year-old as the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks on the night while limiting the Titans' offense to just seven points. After starting off the year with three touchdown tosses against the Browns in Week 1, Mariota hasn't really done much to appease fantasy owners. He will look to get back on track in Week 4 in Atlanta against the Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Sep 20 1:50am ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been reduced to nearly equal snap count share with colleague Royce Freeman. That being said, it truly is a toss-up between which running back will see more production in Week 3 as they will likely receive the same volume once again. The Broncos face off with the Green Bay Packers, who have not had an overly intimidating run defense to start the year in 2019. If you absolutely need to play Lindsay in a deep league flex role, especially in PPR setting, he most likely will suffice with decent production, but don't expect anything crazy.

From RotoBaller

Royce Freeman Sep 20 1:50am ET

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has seen significant time in the start of the 2019 season compared to where he ended last year. Freeman and teammate Phillip Lindsay have been sharing time out of the backfield and neither of them has been able to have a standout game yet this year. Therefore, it can be expected they will share duties once again in Week 3. If you need a player to throw in due to injuries in a deep league, Freeman poses an option with the potential of a breakout game or a few touchdowns looks to get some points on the board.

From RotoBaller

Noah Fant Sep 20 1:10am ET

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant has shown signs of promise to start the year, but he still needs to prove himself before he can be trusted to put up consistent numbers week-to-week. That being said, we have yet to see signs that Fant can have a breakout game and he should stay on waivers and benches in most leagues for Week 3.

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DaeSean Hamilton Sep 20 1:10am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton has been a disappointment to start the 2019 season. He has struggled the last two weeks, and there is no reason that owners should give him the benefit of the doubt to flip the script against a stout Green Bay Packers Defense. If Hamilton is still on your bench in hopes he can figure things out, keep him there this week and out of your starting lineup.

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Courtland Sutton Sep 20 1:00am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton has put up a solid start to his 2019 campaign, most likely to the satisfaction of many owners. However, his Week 3 matchup makes him a tough play, as the Green Bay Packers Defense has locked down most receivers outside of their opposing team's number one target. With Emmanuel Sanders most likely getting the highest target share in Week 3 for the Broncos, Courtland Sutton and company are likely to struggle, much like Anthony Miller and Stefon Diggs have when their teams faced the Packers in previous weeks. If able to avoid putting Sutton in your lineup this week, it is probably a safe choice.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Sep 20 12:50am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looks to follow-up a strong Week 2 performance as the team heads to Green Bay for a matchup with the Packers. While the Packers Defense has been a strong collective unit in 2019, they don't necessarily have a lockdown corner that Sanders will be matching up with all game. With that being said, it may be hard to see Sanders having a league-leading game, but he should have no problem getting solid receptions and yardage, making him a solid flex play in most 10 and 12 team leagues.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco Sep 20 12:40am ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco has kicked off his campaign in the mile-high city with a slow start, currently producing low-end QB2 numbers. The narrative will stay the same for Week 3, as he lines up against a strong Green Bay Packers Defense who have held the likes of Mitch Trubisky and Kirk Cousins in check the previous two weeks. Avoid Flacco this week in all leagues.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Sep 20 12:10am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught five of his nine targets in Week 3, finishing with 46 yards while also adding four rushing yards. This was Westbrook's highest yardage total of the year, and while he found the end zone in Week 1, it's still been a tough start to the season for the promising wideout. His value in standard scoring leagues is virtually nonexistent right now, though his target share does give him upside still in PPR. It's not quite time to panic and drop Westbrook, but fantasy owners should be concerned by his usage.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Sep 20 12:00am ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been solid throughout the first two weeks of the season, but he hasn't done anything spectacular. In Week 3, he'll likely continue to be quarterback Jacoby Brissett's favorite target, but he still has a limited ceiling. It only takes one play for him to have a big week. As a result, he's a must-start. After a very grim outlook following the retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, Hilton has proved that it doesn't matter what QB is throwing him the ball.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Sep 20 12:00am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark found the end zone for the third week in a row, hauling in four catches for 76 yards in Thursday's win over Tennessee. Chark is becoming the favored end zone target for rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and that mixed with his speed has made him a valuable fantasy option who is able to produce even with a fairly low target total. If he's still on waivers in your league, it's time to add the second-year wideout.

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Nyheim Hines Sep 19 11:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines has been held mostly in check for the first couple weeks of the season. In Week 3, he has more upside than we've seen thus far. Starting running back Marlon Mack has been battling an injury all week, and the Colts will likely have to put up points to keep up with the Atlanta Falcons. If Mack is unable to go or is limited in any way, Hines earns strong flex consideration as a result. In PPR formats, he's a strong possibility.

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Gardner Minshew II Sep 19 11:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw a pair of first quarter touchdowns in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans. He ended up with 204 passing yards on 20-for-30 passing and also added 18 rushing yards on four carries. It was a solid game for Minshew, though one of those touchdowns was made easy by the Jaguars starting a drive at the Titans' seven-yard line. Minshew is making crisp throws and avoiding mistakes so far in his Jaguars tenure and looks like a solid QB2 at this point.

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Leonard Fournette Sep 19 11:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette had 11 carries for negative-eight yards at one point in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans, but a 69-yard run late helped him finish with the game with 15 carries and 66 yards. He also added six receptions for 26 yards. Fournette was having a nightmarish game before that long run, and fantasy owners should feel discouraged despite the final stat line. Fournette and the Jaguars' offensive line just couldn't create room for him to run.

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Marlon Mack Sep 19 11:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack is his team's lead back. He's far and away the best player at his position on his team. In Week 2, he was stifled by the Tennessee Titans. In Week 3, he has a matchup that is advantageous for him to have a good outcome. The Atlanta Falcons got ran over by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and the Colts have an even better offensive line. With the speed to hit a big play at any time, Mack belongs in lineups this week with a good amount of confidence.

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Jacoby Brissett Sep 19 11:20pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been quietly steady through the first two weeks. In the team's Week 3 matchup, he has another positive matchup. The Atlanta Falcons Defense has a lot of speed, but they haven't been shutting opponents out through the air. Unless Brissett gets an amazing matchup, he'll consistently be a QB2, but he has a lot of upside this week. This game has some shootout potential, and Brissett could benefit as a result.

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