Gronk’s back could keep him out of Week 1

Gronk ‘doubtful’ for Week 1: An ever-shrinking fantasy tight end pool could be getting shallower with news that Rob Gronkowski is now “doubtful” for the Patriots regular season opener. The idea that Gronk wouldn’t play isn’t necessarily shocking. What is disconcerting is the thought that it’s his back — not his forearm — that is keeping him down. In addition to the procedures on his forearm, Gronkowski had back surgery this offseason. However, these issues go all the way back to his collegiate days at Arizona. At this point, the chronic nature of the back injuries is something all fantasy owners should be paying attention to. When he’s on the field, he’ll be productive. But it’s fair to wonder if this is the start of something that might never completely go away.

Bell leaves with injury: Last week, there was a bit of a fantasy kerfuffle when the Steelers listed Le’Veon Bell and Isaac Redman as co-starters. Most observers (yours truly included) thought Bell would eventually win the job. That still might happen, but after suffering a foot injury in Monday night’s game against Washington, Bell might have to work a little harder to earn the gig. The rookie exited the game after just four carries with a right foot injury. That’s an unwelcome sight for a player who has already missed time with a knee issue. It’s far too soon to give up on Bell as a possible fantasy producer this season, but he could be forced to make room atop the rookie rankings with the likes of Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball.

Richardson named starter: One running back battle is over — Daryl Richardson has been named the starter for the St. Louis Rams’ Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, Richardson was second on the club in rushing attempts, behind Steven Jackson. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the second-year pro would win the job. But Richardson isn’t totally in the clear. It seems likely that head coach Jeff Fisher will use Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy in different situations. If you’re targeting Richardson this season, be sure to handcuff him with one of his backups.

— Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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