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Fantasy Doctor: Trade Gronkowski for Calvin Johnson?

Pro Football Weekly
Reports: Gronkowski has surgery on forearm

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Reports: Gronkowski has surgery on forearm

Every Wednesday, The Fantasy Doctor ponders fantasy football dilemmas and prescribes advice with an eye on helping you win. Email your fantasy questions to Questions may be edited for clarity.

I’ve been offered Calvin Johnson for Rob Gronkowski. I need another wideout; I have only Jordy Nelson, Malcom Floyd and Michael Crabtree. My backup tight end is Tony Gonzalez. What do you think?

— Elvis

Now this is a trade proposal I like. You know what I don't like? Trading a blue-chip player for multiple players hoping the cumulative impact will make up for the loss of an elite performer. I'm a star-for-star guy. Those deals get a league buzzing, and though I can't quantify it, I believe they are better propositions than one-for-three deals and the like. 

This looks like a fair deal to me. If you're going to trade Gronkowski, I believe you have to get a player like Johnson in return. Yes, he has scored only two TDs, but he has had a couple of monster games in a row, and he's very clearly in Pro Bowl form. 

However, here's why trading for Johnson isn't a total slam dunk: he's dealing with some persistent knee soreness. Clearly, he's shown he can thrive under these circumstances. If the condition were to get worse, or if the Lions (4-5) were to fall out of playoff contention, it's always possible that Johnson could get a little more rest than you would like down the stretch. Please note that I'm just speaking hypothetically here; in my view, though, Johnson's knee is a risk you have to consider. 

In the end, would I make this trade? If I believed Johnson would put me over the top in the next several weeks, I probably would. The presence of Gonzalez, who's having an exceptional season in his own right, would seal the deal. 

Hey Doc,

I need some help in a pen-and-paper TD-only league.  We play one QB, two RB, three WR/TE.

QBs: Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton

RBs: Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Willis McGahee (Marshawn Lynch on bye)

WRs/TEs: Jordy Nelson, Miles Austin, Torrey Smith, Jeremy Maclin, or Jacob Tamme (Victor Cruz and Kyle Rudolph on bye)

Also, any long-term advice for the playoff run would be appreciated. No trades or waivers are allowed in the league. I’m currently third and trying to repeat as champ.

Thanks for the help,

Eric in Denver

Ah, TD-only leagues! The doctor loves these antique gems! I know of at least one other TD-only league; hence my reference to "leagues." But gosh, I don't think there are a whole bunch of them left. One day they will completely disappear and the doctor will feel even older than he already does. Resolved: I'll join a TD-only league in 2013. 

Anyway, here's who I would start: 

QB: Newton. I love the matchup this week vs. Tampa Bay, and he's a threat to put up big numbers no matter the opponent.

RB: Foster is a slam dunk. For the other spot, I'd go with Martin. Richardson's a tremendous talent, but he's not in nearly as strong of an offense as Martin is. McGahee's also a sneaky-good play, but he's fourth-best among this group this week. 

WR: I'd go with Nelson, Smith and Austin. Maclin's back injury makes him tough to recommend right now, but he has a nice matchup and could be plugged into the lineup if needed.

My one piece of long-term advice: Don't give up on Cruz; the Giants' passing game is more likely to bounce back than regress further, in my view. 

Hey Fantasy Doc,

I pulled into the lead in the division but need this week to solidify a playoff spot, as they start next week. I need some advice on QB and a WR2:

QB: Cam Newton, Matt Schaub

WR: Titus Young, Emmanuel Sanders and hopefully Danario Alexander, if my waiver claim works out.

I know it's slim pickings, especially if Antonio Brown returns to play. Would appreciate all the guidance you can supply, and have a great week.

Thanks again,


At quarterback, I'd go with Newton. Schaub has a nice matchup, too, but I believe Newton has a little more upside this week. The Buccaneers-Panthers game could be entertaining. 

At wideout, Alexander is a plug-and-play if you indeed win the waiver claim. If you don't have Alexander, I'd start Young. Sanders is tough to recommend with Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) out for Week 11. 


I'm in a 12 team-standard league where I start three WRs, two RBs and a flex. My WRs are Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Wes Welker, Denarius Moore and Danny Amendola. My RBs are Darren McFadden, Stevan Ridley, Willis McGahee, Mikel Leshoure, Marcel Reece and Joique Bell. Who do I start? Thanks.

— Joseph

That's a good group of wideouts, so my first instinct would be to play to my strengths and get as many of them into the lineup as possible. 

To me, Welker and Colston are must-starts. Both are very productive and have ideal matchups. I'd pencil them in at two of the WR spots. For the third spot, let's go with Fitzgerald. The Falcons are No. 19 in passing yards allowed per game and No. 25 in yards per pass surrendered. 

At the flex spot, I'd start Moore. The Saints are No. 31 vs. the pass, and the Raiders don't have much of a running game. I'd prefer him to the backs this week, considering the matchup. 

I like your overall RB depth, but for Week 11, Ridley and McGahee are the plays.

I can't recommend McFadden right now because of his high ankle sprain. If he returns to practice and gets across-the-board glowing praise for how he looks, then he might be a consideration at one of the RB spots or even as the flex. But if he's still working his way back, then I'd play it safe and keep him on the bench this week. 

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