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NFL futures are highly intriguing and entertaining ways to have season-long action. For my money, the player prop futures offer the most obvious values due to fewer variables being at play. The receiving yard futures are often the best of the player props, and while this usually means attacking wide receiver props, sometimes a tight end prop jumps off the page. This year, it’s the Rob Gronkowski prop. Let’s take a closer look.
Check out all of our 2020 NFL Player Prop Bets here.
Rob Gronkowski receiving yards 600.5 (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Over (-110)
- Under (-110)
Gronk is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he’s also one of the league’s most magnetic and entertaining personalities. His return to the NFL with Tom Brady has been one of the feel-good stories of a tumultuous 2020. Constantly banged-up due to his physical style, Gronkowski refused to return to the league last season because he couldn’t use his pain relief medication of choice. With that roadblock no longer in place, he will team up with Brady on what might be one of the league’s most explosive offenses.
One of the best parts of joining the Buccaneers — aside from playing with longtime friend Tom Brady — is that Tampa Bay won’t need Gronkowski to play a full set of snaps. They have two other starting-caliber tight ends who can help to keep him fresh while also picking up some of the grunt work in the running game.
While Gronkowski has been slowly declining over the past several years, aside from his rookie campaign, he has cleared 601 receiving yards in every season that he’s played nine or more games. At three to four receptions per game over 14 contests, Gronkowski should be able to threaten the over.
Experts have often opined about the lack of tight end usage in Bruce Arians’ system. However, that appears set to change. Bruce Arians himself announced that he expects the team to utilize 12 personnel (two tight end sets) as their base package. This means more snaps for the entire tight end group, including Gronkowski.
In 2019, the Buccaneers distributed targets as follows: of their 606 pass attempts, 376 went to wide receivers, 113 to running backs, and 117 tight ends. The last time Tom Brady targeted receivers more than 301 times came way back in 2015. That season, he funneled 311 passes to his wide receivers, 143 to running backs, and 169 to tight ends.
While 116 targets for the tight end position is a healthy number, Brady should lean on the position more often. Something in line with his 2015 number seems about right. If we add just under 50 targets, the tight end group will see about 160 for the year. If the team truly goes 12 personnel as their base, we can subtract most of those targets from wide receivers. While Evans and Godwin should combine for at least 280 targets, the rest of the receiver room may combine for only 50-60 targets. With 100-110 to the running back position, Brady would be just over the 600 pass attempt mark.
While it’s possible that Gronkowski sees limited usage during the season to keep him fresh for the playoffs, the Buccaneers’ secondary may put the kibosh on those plans. To analyze this future, we’ll project Gronkowski to see around 60 percent of the snaps for Tampa Bay. He should be a focal point of most passing plays called when on the field, so we can also use the 60 percent number to determine what volume of targets he receives from the 160ish we projected to the position.
Sixty percent of 160 targets would make for 96 targets for Gronkowski. If we use his career catch rate of 65.53 percent, that would put him at 63 receptions for the season. If we multiply 63 receptions by 14.5 yards per reception (he averages 15.1 for his career), we end up at 912 receiving yards. While the final receiving yard number seems a tad optimistic, Gronkowski would need just 42 receptions at 14.5 yards per catch to hit the over.
How you lean on this prop comes down to how heavily you believe the Buccaneers will use Gronkowski. It’s safe to say that he won’t play a full-time role, but he should be able to hit 601 receiving yards even at 60 percent of the snaps.
DraftKings set the line before the Buccaneers announced that they would use 12 personnel as their base package. It hasn’t been changed since early May despite a number of other props on DraftKings getting adjusted. Health is an obvious concern with Gronkowski, but after two years off, he’s well-positioned for 2020. However, with COVID-19 and potential load management, we suggest keeping the action to a mere one-unit play at DraftKings.