Report: Rob Gronkowski ‘not optimistic’ to play Sunday

Gronk remains uncertain: According to a report from ProFootballTalk, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is “not optimistic” to play this week against the Atlanta Falcons with arm and back injuries. Don’t expect head coach Bill Belichick to shed too much light on the situation, but the star tight end was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday. It’s becoming a major frustration for fantasy owners who have been continually making contingency plans while trying trying to wait on Gronk. Until further notice, continue with those contingency plans and hope Gronkowski can be ready for Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ponder has broken rib: Credit Tom Brady with the scoop. Brady’s former teammate, Matt Cassel, will start for the Minnesota Vikings this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cassel takes over for Christian Ponder, who suffered a broken rib in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns. The timing isn’t great for Cassel, who steps in to face a defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks. However, if the preseason can be used as a barometer, Cassel focused a lot of his targets on Jerome Simpson (who leads the team’s leading receiver) and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. If you’re hurting at WR during the bye weeks — or just feeling a little saucy — those two might be worth considering, although there are likely plenty of better options available.

Pryor unlikely to play: It looks like Matt Flynn could be getting the call for Oakland this weekend (we’re still awaiting comment from Tom Brady). Terrelle Pryor returned to practice Thursday, but seems unlikely to be cleared from his concussion in time for Sunday’s contest against Washington. For fantasy owners hoping to replace Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton this week, it’s a missed opportunity versus arguably the league’s worst defense. In the absence of their dynamic young quarterback, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Raiders lean a little more heavily on Darren McFadden against a defense that has been shredded by fantasy rushers.

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