Each week, TSN.ca Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen and NFL Editors Ben Fisher and Mitch Ward discuss three hot fantasy football topics.
1) With Rob Gronkowski finally back, where will he finish the year in terms of fantasy points among TEs?
Cullen: I expect Gronkowski to finish in the top five among tight ends in total points by the end of the year. Barring injury, Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas have sizeable enough leads that they should be able to finish ahead. Jordan Cameron has a big lead, but with shaky quarterback play, could be easier to catch. After that, there's lots of room for Gronk to move up, especially if Tom Brady is going to target him as heavily as he did in his first game of the season, when he sent 17 passes in Gronkowski's direction.
Fisher: Gronkowski has nine weeks left to catch up to the 40 or so tight ends ahead of him in fantasy points. I think he catches up to all but about seven of them. I'm giving Gronk at least 10 points a week and three or four weeks where he scores closer to 20. They're lofty numbers but we all know what he's capable of – and he is by far the most desirable option in New England's offence this year – so it's definitely possible. If Gronkowski stays healthy, he'll finish as a Top 10 tight end on the verge of being Top 5.
Ward: Gronkowski is a top-3 tight end from here on out. He marked his return to game action with eight catches and 114 yards which is nice, but more importantly he saw 17 targets and did not suffer any injury setbacks. The 17 targets are massive and are a clear indication that he is going to be Tom Brady's favourite target the rest of the way. You can expect double digit targets on a weekly basis and you should also expect the catch rate to improve as he and Brady get back on the same page. There are plenty more big days in store for Gronk.
2) Can Darrius Heyward-Bey be a serviceable fantasy starter now that Reggie Wayne is out for the season?
Cullen: The Colts will hope that Heyward-Bey can provide that kind of production and the opportunity to start in an offence with a quality quarterback makes him worth adding in many leagues, but I'm more inclined to raise expectations for T.Y. Hilton or even TE Coby Fleener before getting too carried away with expectations for Heyward-Bey.
Fisher: Heyward-Bey finished last year just outside the Top 50 in fantasy scoring at WR. He's in a much more enviable situation this year with Andrew Luck and the Colts but enough to put up Top 30 WR numbers? Heyward-Bey actually put up double digit points against the Broncos after Wayne left with an injury but I don't expect that to continue on a weekly basis. The 26-year-old actually started the year ahead of T.Y. Hilton on the depth chart and I wouldn't be surprised if LaVon Brazill jumps ahead of DHB at some point too. He's just not a good receiver.
Ward: DHB is going to see more targets out of necessity without Wayne in the Colts lineup. However, Heyward-Bey is not Reggie Wayne and you need to temper expectations somewhat because of the relatively conservative offence Pep Hamilton has implemented in Indy. The Colts just don't take a ton of shots deep which mitigates Heyward-Bey's biggest asset: speed. I'd expect someone like tight end Coby Fleener to see a much bigger uptick in usage than Heyward-Bey. Despite the loss of Wayne, Heyward-Bey is no more than a low-end WR3 at this point.
3) After returning from injury with two solid weeks, can a healthy Eddie Lacy be a Top 10 fantasy RB?
Cullen: No doubt. Lacy has run for 301 yards over the last three weeks and with the receiving corps depleted for the Packers, they might actually need to run the ball more. The top seven or eight backs are pretty set this year, but after that group the production varies quite a bit and it's easy enough to see Lacy as a better option than DeMarco Murray, Gio Bernard or even Alfred Morris.
Fisher: The Packers are virtually void of all options in the passing game and that should help Lacy with scoring opportunities, but it's still hard to consider him a Top 10 running back. He has been playing near his ceiling since returning from injury and has only barely been a Top 10 back the past two weeks. The 230 pound power back might bump his totals with some goal line opportunities but he probably more accurately slots in as a solid RB2.
Ward: Top-10 might be a tad high but he's definitely in that range. Last week against the Browns, Lacy had 22 carries compared to just two for Jonathan Franklin. Lacy is the Packers workhorse and with so many injuries at receiver in Green Bay, he figures to see a heavy workload going forward including more looks in the passing game. Lacy also has a pretty running back friendly schedule the rest of the way so top-10 production, while not guaranteed, is certainly in play.